Sharing My World 82

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Share Your World – June 4, 2018

Is there a piece of clothing from your childhood you still remember?

I miss the carefree days of wearing nothing but red, before the notion settled in my brain that red made me look like the broad side of a barn.  Thanks to my dad for that  awesome expression, and thanks to my mom for choosing my all red wardrobe from ages one through six.  I never paid much attention to the clothes I put on, until I got this red corduroy skirt with three appliquéd white teddy bears and straps that crossed in the back and buttoned in the front and slipped off my shoulders a lot.  I imagine I begged to wear it every day, but had to keep it for “good”.  I’m so glad there’s a photo of it.  I loved that thing.

Those socks with strappy sandals are a much foggier memory, quite possibly my own fashion choice at the time.  And I think the white blouse had red buttons.  Best outfit ever.  It’s been all down hill since then.

Regardless of your physical fitness, coordination or agility, if you could be an athlete what would you do? Remember this is SYW, dreaming is always allowed.

I have given this question a lot of careful consideration while sitting here on the couch being totally not athletic.  My sport of choice would not include excessive speed or risk or danger or physical exertion.  So that limits the field somewhat. Beach volleyball, pole dancing, weight lifting and archery all crossed my mind.  But my final answer is darts.  It’s a sport which requires a keen eye, good concentration and accuracy, and possibly a great love and appreciation of drinking beer in pubs.

In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?

Well that depends on who’s driving.  Mostly I’m content to sit in the passenger seat and be an annoying navigator, nodding off when things get boring.  But if I don’t trust the abilities of the person behind the wheel it won’t be a pleasant trip for either of us.  I think I’m a pretty good driver and I do like to be in control of the speed and the route and the pit stops.  But I’m also getting old and slow and more absent-minded, so hopefully I will be smart enough to give it up when it’s time.  However if you told me that time has come and it’s today I probably wouldn’t take you seriously.  It’s an old person thing.  We are all stubborn as hell.  Just hide my keys.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

IMG_3301This made me smile because I do almost all of these things!  It’s like a check list for a simple life.  I can’t sleep when it gets light out, so my summer mornings are ridiculously early.  I always make my bed as soon as I get out of it.  I excel at sitting.  I enjoy folding clean, fresh smelling clothes and towels and sheets.  It’s wonderful to wake up to a clean kitchen and empty sinks, so washing everything up before bed is a bit of an obsession with me.  Eat when hungry, sleep when tired – no problem – perks of being retired.

This morning I cut the grass, trimmed a tree and two bushes, watered the flowerbeds, put out the green compost  garbage bin and the recycling and cursed at the bugs.  Like housework, doing these things is a weird kind of pointless because it all has to be done again.  And again, and again.  But it’s also pointless to dwell on that.  So I won’t.

And that’s my very ordinary little old world for another week!  It’s a blessing to be this bored and content you know.  There’s something to appreciate.

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Sharing My World 81

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Baby sister and me at picnic grounds, random uncle in background, and some very cool cars.

Share Your World – May 28, 2018

If you were to pack a basket for a picnic lunch, what would be in your basket?

I have the fondest memories of our Sunday family picnics in a little park beside the beach in Port Elgin.  There were always various aunts and uncles and cousins from my dad’s side of the family, the heady scent of cedar in the hot sun, and picnic tables that the men would round up until there were enough to seat everyone.  There were paper table cloths and paper plates, plastic cups and cutlery, wasps, ants, screeching sea gulls, and so much food we always ended up having to decide who would take what home with them.  Because how boring to take what you brought and how fun to exchange things.  And fight over Aunt Marie’s brownies topped with melted marshmallows and chocolate icing.  Well, maybe that never happened because I can’t imagine there being any of those left.

Something that did happen every picnic day without fail was having the adults warn their children that swimming was absolutely forbidden until two hours after eating. Because to do so meant you would probably get cramps and die.  And the adults would have their after meal chat time seriously reduced too. That bit would be equally tragic.

I do not remember ever having much to do with the picnic food prep, which likely explains my picnic nostalgia.  White bread sandwiches cut in little triangles and jello salads and potato salads and desserts all just magically appeared.  And there was always Freshie.  That’s a Canadian thing from the 1950’s and beyond, an add-your-own-sugar drink mix, in kid flavours called orange, yellow, purple and red.  Purple was the best.

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At this point in my life I have a hard time figuring out what the point of a picnic is when it’s just so much easier to stay home where there is less pollen and fewer bugs.  But if I was forced at gun point to pack for one, I’d fill the basket with potato salad and plastic forks.  And hope somebody else remembers to bring the Freshie.

On a vacation what do you require in any place that you sleep?

A decent mattress, clean sheets, air conditioning, a great shower, towels larger than postage stamps and internet access.  As far as I know there are none of these things in a tent.  Oh, and lots of body lotion.  Some places are very chintzy with the body lotion.  I bring my own, but still, you know, free stuff.

If you were to buy a new house/apartment what are the top three items on your wish list?

Funny you should ask because I have been watching design challenges and home purchasing shows and small home documentaries.  It is completely bizarre to me how much space some people think they need.  One woman wanted an extra room just to store her shoes.  Think about why you need such a ridiculous amount of storage space and then get rid of half your crap.  Plus, seriously, if you are one person with four bathrooms, what is going on in that little head of yours?  And more importantly, who is keeping them all clean while you’re out working your ass off to pay your mortgage?

Top three items on my list:  two bedrooms, big shower, no stairs.  The rest of the list?   Kitchen with stools and a counter you can eat at, open to living area, a little patio or balcony, no grass to cut.  A den or office area would be a nice bonus for books and art paraphernalia but if that stuff can fit in the bedrooms, even better.  Something small and easy to keep clean.  If I want to entertain I will rent a hall.  Or take you out to a restaurant.  If you get really drunk and can’t drive home, you can sleep on my floor.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

Last summer it would often take me a couple of days to cut the grass, doing the back one day and the front the next.  I’ve done it twice now, front and back easily in a morning, no problem. So I guess those 15 minute senior workouts are doing their magic.  I also found a video that takes you on a mile long walk (1.609 km in Canada) without leaving your home.  So, great for rainy, heavy pollen, or crazy hot days. The ‘walk’ incorporates side to side and back and forth steps, arm and knee raises, kicks, twists, and generally a lot of antics that if you did them out and about in your neighbourhood would draw a lot of attention to yourself.

After all these hot days, last night we had our first real thunder-storm of the season. It was short but lovely.  There’s something about the delightful smell of a rain storm that always makes me smile.   That, plus the fact that if you had a picnic planned you’d have to call it off and eat at your kitchen counter instead.

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The Bean Can Workout

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For several days it’s been just too hot here to go for a walk.  I vowed, after our ghastly winter in which it was just too cold and icy to walk, that this summer I would not complain about the heat if we were lucky enough to get some.  So I’m not complaining about that.

But of course if I’m writing I am complaining about something,  and todays topic is how sloth-like I’ve been feeling.  Only for a few days, though.  Last week I was so freaking ambitious it was scary.  I moved furniture around in the basement.  I cleaned the windows and curtains down there and vacuumed and dusted and even did a bit of painting.  I washed light fixtures and cleaned and rearranged clutter and tried not to think about how the carpet should be burned and how gross the ceilings are.  Then I imagined my grandchildren in the future reminiscing with each other about visiting and having to sleep in grandmas creepy old basement when they were young.  After that I sighed a lot and told myself the experience would no doubt build character.  Because just imagining the work involved in doing everything that needs doing is exhausting.

So, now that I’ve been sitting around for a few days resting and doing nothing except wondering what I should eat next, I’ve come up with a much better fitness plan.

I should mention my eye exam first, because I like to take a very meandering approach to getting to the point, but trust me, this is relevant.  Visual acuity was way down in my left eye and intraocular pressure was up.  My optometrist asked if my blood pressure was okay.  Well, we had just driven downtown on a Monday, so it was certainly a possibility that it was elevated. He asked me to come back early Friday morning before drinking coffee to have the IOP rechecked.  He also did a retina scan.    That Wednesday I went to my doctor to have a possible plantar wart on my foot looked at (it’s a whole other story, I know, we think it’s just a callous although she did the liquid nitrogen treatment just in case) and my blood pressure readings were high enough for her to be concerned and suggest that I monitor it for a month and keep a record.  First thing in the morning before coffee, last thing at night before bed.  I am also checking fasting blood sugar readings daily, so I suppose you could say I’m currently keeping the worlds most boring diary.

Exercise for helping to control both these things is very important.  The early rush hour trip back to the optometrist resulted in slightly less elevated IOP, normal enough retina scan, normal enough macula, check up in a year.  I also have early cataracts.  That’s pretty normal as well.  What would be even more normal is having an optometrist close to home instead of smack dab in the middle of the city.  And to give up all this “before coffee” nonsense.

But back to the exercise thing.  Finally.  I’ve lost a lot of weight since retiring and I don’t want it to creep back on due to lack of activity.  I’m way more clued in about diet and nutrition and smarter choices, so I’m pretty sure it’s not a huge leap to develop the same kind of commitment to keeping my joints from seizing up.

Walking is still the best.  Cutting the grass is equivalent to a walk.  Now for the days when I can’t make myself put on shoes and go outside, I will do a 30 minute bean can workout.  It’s actually a fifteen minute seniors low impact thing, but I’ve upgraded it slightly because I’m not ninety yet.  I found it on YouTube.  There are no doubt gazillions of these videos to peruse, but on this one I quite liked the nice young man (this is how seniors talk) who went through 10 different exercises, telling me how great I was doing before I even got off my butt to do anything.

He uses a chair in some of them for balance, does squats that don’t kill your knees, side to side steps that remind me of one of my random dance moves in high school, marching in place with swinging arms and high knee raises.  Killer stuff. I changed the wall push ups to fridge push ups because I’d rather have greasy handprints there.  Side to side twist and punch from the chin is exactly as much fun as it sounds.  But the best part was using “weights” which were actually water bottles,  for lifting and curling and pressing and whatever else you call messing around with heavy things in your hands.

I had to improvise with a can of black beans in one hand and a can of mixed beans in the other because I don’t have water bottles around when W isn’t home. Did I mention he’s gone fishing for the entire summer?  And is also looking after some things for his elderly parents on the side.  This is why the grass cutting here is all mine.

My preference in lieu of plastic water bottles is a refillable water container because there’s nothing wrong with our tap water.  I can appreciate the convenience of bottled water when it’s necessary but I think it’s a silly wasteful gimmick we’ve gone way overboard with for the most part.  I do have some bottles of Diet Pepsi in the cupboard but it’s probably not a great idea to shake those up for 30 minutes.  But the good news is it gives me an excuse to drink a couple of them and then fill them up with water to use instead of canned goods because they hold 710 ml vs. 540. And could conceivably make a bigger impact on my shoulders.  Which is where most people never think to concentrate when slimming down.

Anyway it will be a few days before the Pepsi bottles are ready because I try to limit my sodium and artificial sweetener intake, so it will be Bean workouts until then.  The beauty of this series is there’s nothing bouncy or heart attack inducing.  Always a plus.  You do as many repetitions as you can of each one, and go through the routine twice.  It was kind of fun!  I think I might even be able to break out in a sweat if I try hard enough!  I like the concentration on stretching and gentle movements, a combination of yoga and Tai Chi for the very lazy.

Now when I’m feeling like a slug and think a snack will perk me up, I will do as many fridge push ups as it takes to change my mind.  Hey, it could work!

Okay, I gotta go and get started on one of those bottles.  I love a project.  Maybe one day I’ll graduate to real dumbbells.  But then where’s the fun in that?

Sharing My World 80

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Share Your World – April 30, 2018

Do you use paper money? If so is your money organized sequentially according to denomination?

Well, sort of, in answer to both questions, although the organized part is a bit hit or miss.  A couple of weeks ago I had two five dollar bills, both folded in half and probably right side up and facing forward. If I still had them I would go and check to verify this information, because that is exactly how busy I am.

I like to have some cash on hand, especially if we’re travelling, for small things like coffee or snacks, but that’s just a long ingrained habit, because now everywhere takes cards for everything.  But if they don’t, or their machines are down, it’s good to have an emergency stash of a couple of twenties stuffed into some obscure zippered pocket of your bag so you can rummage around in a panic trying to find them, praying you didn’t use them for something already.  Also a suitcase full of paper money hidden under your floor boards would be nice.

You are comfortable doing nothing? For long stretches of time?

I am comfortable doing nothing for long stretches of time.  Yes I am.  I am also able to sit perfectly still without fidgeting.  Normally I am a very patient and calm person and don’t mind waiting.  I can be relaxed to the point of passing out.  I used to call this severe laziness, but now I’ve decided it’s more like energy efficiency.  I am conserving my power.  Fully charged and on standby.  Except not actually standing if there’s someplace to sit down.

What is your greatest strength?

I honestly don’t know.  I’m pretty ordinary.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

I appreciate the weather for finally figuring out what season we’re supposed to be experiencing, although today started out overcast and windy.  It’s not snowing.  Woohoo.  That’s something to smile about.

When the snow finally took a breather W was able to drive east to see his parents and take care of some things for them.  We haven’t communicated much for a couple of weeks but I’m assuming it’s all going well and I expect him home some time tomorrow afternoon.  Our lawns at last look to be dry enough to be raked and poked and prodded and whatever else he plans to do to them.  Apparently he has a system.  He told me that when I offered to help.  So I’m assuming he meant I should just stay out of his way.  Stirring up the grass just stirs up my allergies and I really hate yard work anyway.  I don’t even know why I offered.  Sometimes I carry this trying to be nice thing way too far.

The sun is just now coming out from behind the clouds!  All the green emerging from the greys and browns is a beautiful uplifting sight.  It IS May, after all.  Which means we have about three more weeks before we can put out our bedding plants here.  I wish I was kidding about that, or that I bothered with bedding plants, but I gave that up a long time ago because I got tired of spending money to watch things die.  Maybe that’s my greatest strength, knowing when to give up.  Ha.  Like that one made the list.  Although when you think about it, it is a concept some people can’t grasp.

Give it up.  Let it go.  End this blather.  See how easy that was?

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The Mysterious Can Opener Caper

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The very new and the very old and why are those apples so shiny?

It’s obvious to me by my title choice that I have been reading way too many crime stories lately, featuring detectives who are enamoured of their own wit in naming cases.  I download sometimes up to three free e-books a day with not a hope in hell of ever reading all of them.  But I do it for a couple of good reasons.  One, they’re free.  And two, if I can’t get past the first chapter I have a minimum amount of remorse hitting “home” and choosing another title.  Because hey,  they were all FREE.

As usual, I digress.  I have a can opener story.  I mean, come on, doesn’t everybody?   It wouldn’t surprise me to find authors giving them away for free on Amazon.  Get Book One of the Suspense Filled New Can Opener Trilogy Thriller!  I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Anyway, this little black electric can opener I’ve had for many years was on sale for less than ten dollars way back eons ago.  I never thought at the time what possible reasons there could be for such a low price, but I wonder if the freaking racket the thing makes had something to do with it.  There can be no stealthy opening of cans in my house.  Unless you want to root around in ‘the drawerfor the hand held quiet ones.  We still have three of them I think.  Pretty sure two of them still work.

As with many such incredibly cheap items, this thing refuses to die.  If I’d picked up a forty dollar deluxe model it would have broken down in six months.  There is no doubt some Murphy’s Law about that very thing.

With use, however sporadic,  the little blade gets gooped up with the liquid from whatever I’m opening, and the little wheel that turns to rotate the can also gets grungy, as does the handle I press down to start the gawd awful wake-the-dead noise because I normally open a can only when I’m in the middle of some kind of complicated messy food prep. Like making tuna salad sandwiches. Trust me, I can make that complicated and messy.  So my point is, the thing gets dirty. And although I always have good intentions of cleaning it up in a timely fashion, the task does get overlooked.  Until it’s so disgusting I can’t do that anymore.

Yesterday afternoon I realized a soapy wipe was not going to be good enough this time around, so I armed myself with a pointy paring knife, dish soap, an old tooth brush, and super hot water from the sink sprayer, thinking if water somehow gets into the motor and ruins it, well it is old and cheap and who cares unless I electrocute myself later.

As I was scrubbing away and cursing the man who designed this impossible to clean piece of crap (it’s always a mans fault when something is hard to keep clean, have you ever noticed that?) the silver handle popped off and clattered into the sink.  And suddenly it was super easy to wash, and the little wheel was now exposed and clean in no time.  Seriously. And it all popped back together again.

It was one of those eureka moments.  The piece comes off so you can throw it in the dishwasher.  The guy who designed it (probably a woman) was not such a moron after all.  This is the second time I’ve been dumbfounded in the kitchen this month.  (Contrary to popular opinion, this does not happen on a daily basis.)  My son unscrewed the top from my immersion blender so it’s easier to clean the blade half.  I did not know it was meant to come apart.  Well, now I know two new things.  I wonder what other totally obvious things I’m missing.

This is why life for some people is a continuing exciting adventure of discovery.  In which a small thing like getting your can opener cleaned up can be the highlight of your day.

Okay, so this wasn’t really a caper, and also not particularly mysterious.  It’s about a kitchen utensil, so I don’t know what you were expecting.  I did hint at death by can opener, and that was pretty exciting, right?  And the story is free.  So we’re all good.

Happy last day of April.  Hope you’re enjoying the sunshine.

Breakfast Soup

It is perfectly fine to have soup for breakfast.  I am the (self-appointed) soup queen and I know these things.  Here is a picture of my butternut squash soup all ready to be pressure cooked.

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Here’s the list of ingredients:

One small chopped yellow onion, minced garlic, fresh minced ginger sautéed in olive oil;  one butternut squash, 2 carrots, 2 apples, 2 little old shrivelled up turnips you need to get rid of (optional), cinnamon, vegetable seasoning, about 4 cups vegetable broth, salt and pepper.

The reason I have listed these first is because usually you can tell from the ingredients whether you have a chance in hell of liking the results, and there is nothing more annoying than scrolling down a page chock full of photos of every conceivable step in the process until finally there’s a bar at the bottom that says click here to go directly to recipe.  Wow.  Too late, I hate you.

I know what a potato looks like before and after it’s peeled and chopped.  There is really no reason for you to chronicle its demise, thanks anyway.  The way to stay sane while researching a recipe is to click the link, copy the URL and then open up your Paprika ap.  There you download, save and create.  Poof, done.  Minimum amounts of grief and cursing.

My Instant Pot category on Paprika is growing daily with recipes I want to try.  There’s a lot of prep work involved and usually a big mess of peelings and seeds and cups and bowls before getting to the Instant part.  Some degree of kitchen chaos is normal for me no matter what I’m making, but with the Instant Pot,  how fast things cook and how tasty everything turns out is SO worth it.  Normally I would never attempt to prepare soup for breakfast but the instant pot makes it possible.  Also a touch of eccentricity helps.  Why does breakfast have to be all eggy and boring, hey?  Ever asked yourself that?  Me neither until just now.

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Voilà, the end result after 9 minutes on manual, normal pressure release for 25 minutes because I was doing something else and forgot about it (10 or 15 minutes is probably fine), quick pressure release and then everything smushed up with an immersion  blender.  I did some swirly things on the top so you can see how lovely and thick it is, and added some freshly ground pepper.  Because people are always adding stuff to the top of soup and that’s all I’ve got.  I suppose I could dig out some parsley, but come on, parsley for breakfast?  I don’t think so.  It’s important to draw the line somewhere.

I’m not a big fan of squash but this is delicious.

Vintage Me

IMG_3264There are times when my memory gets jogged but for the life of me I cannot reconstruct the details.

My sister noticed this newspaper photo on our vintage hometown Facebook page.  Yes, I am officially one of the vintage people now I guess!  The article mentioned “centennial year”‘ so clue number one, it’s 1967.  This morning I rummaged around until I unearthed my five high school yearbooks.  I knew there had to be an excellent reason for hanging on to them all these years.  Leafing through the 1967 edition in an attempt to put names to these faces, this turned up.

filename-1Centennial year must have been a popular time for not listing identities of grade twelve students who went on bus trips.  I recognize myself, back row, third from the left.  I can name a dozen more.  Batting 500 so far.  But here’s the mysteries.

If thirty-four students attended, where (and who) are the other eleven?  Bathroom breaks?  Lost?  Smoking behind the bus?

Why was looking at furniture considered educational?  Maybe it was, but who made that decision? And thrust it upon us?

Did we voluntarily agree to this excursion? Seventeen and eighteen year olds in 1967 be like hey, let’s hop a bus to TO and check out carpeting and new age dining room sets.  Yeah!  I don’t know. And on a Saturday too.  Very curious.

Was that thing I’m wearing a precursor to my furry grey winter coat that a few years later W would say resembled a dirty polar bear?  Like he had seen a great number of dirty polar bears in his lifetime up to that point?   It’s not a very flattering look, but then when you consider everyone else is wearing similar versions of the same boxy big collared giant buttons style, I guess in respect to small town centennial year Canadian winter fashion, I fit right in.

Did we dine at the Westminster Hotel, or the Town and Country Restaurant?  Or was the restaurant IN the hotel?  What did we eat?  I had a friend once who ordered lobster and then couldn’t figure out how to eat it and was too embarrassed to ask, so she shoved the whole thing in to her purse and took it home.  Like that would fool our waiter into thinking we were so sophisticated.   But I’m pretty sure that happened on a different trip altogether.

I don’t think any of us furniture voyeurs went on to become famous designers, but many of us made it to the vintage stage of life, Fifty One Years Later.  Sheesh.  That’s either remarkable or depressing, I can’t decide which.

So many details about this trip elude me completely.  My brain is no longer able to recall the things that happened or the things we saw, or who I sat with on the bus or why not one of us is wearing a hat in January.

Chances are good that my mind registered very little of it all in the first place, having been known in high school for a lot of zoned out day dreaming. The little poem written about our 12B class includes the line …”while Linda is thinking of whom we can’t guess…”.  Understood to mean also “or of what or where or when or even why”. Mystery woman.  Or vacuum head.  Could go either way.