Try This at Home


Despite squirting minced onion juice directly into my right eye, I am having a pretty good day.

Recipes to me are mere guidelines, and unless I’m feeling particularly sad and vulnerable and morose and unsure of myself (man, why would anyone try to create something feeling like that?) I like to wing it and see what happens.  This drives recipe following people a little nuts.  But it’s kind of exciting and God knows I don’t live dangerously in any other way whatsoever.

Anyway I have avocados which will not last forever in my fridge and decided this morning to try making avocado ranch dressing, or dip, or a combination of the two.  Does anyone actually measure avocado?  Wouldn’t a normal person just take their chances and  use a whole one?  I don’t like to measure sour cream or mayo either because they get my measuring cups all gross, so I plopped a dollop of each into the bowl with the avocado.  I left out dill because I don’t have any.  For onion salt and garlic powder I figured the real thing minced would be even better.  Except for the part where putting onion chunks through the garlic press temporarily blinded me in one eye, I think that worked out well.  Then I added apple cider vinegar instead of white.  I don’t really know why, but why not, hey?  And finally salt and pepper and dried parsley. Also not measured because things like that should be to taste.

It all got mushed up together with the immersion blender (I used to call this the Braun mixer, but apparently other companies make them too and I like this slightly more sophisticated name which makes me sound like I know what I’m doing when it comes to kitchen utensils).

Dont worry, its highly unlikely this will be turning in to a cooking blog.  It’s a stage I’m going through, that’s all.

Daughter and granddaughter are coming over for W’s famous fish and chips this afternoon.  I will be contributing a salad, OR……avocado tartar sauce maybe.  Doesn’t that sound good??

Hope neither of them reads this before they get here…

What the Monkeys are Really Saying


Judgemental little shits.

They sit on a shelf above my stove and one day just relayed these statements to me by mental telepathy, which is pretty amazing when you think about it, with me being the only one of us to have a functioning brain, as far as I know.

Meal prep was very challenging when my sister and her family were here.  They were a mix of vegan, gluten-free, no dairy, limited grains, no grain-fed meat and restricted sugar.  My sister shared all kinds of great recipes and ideas and now I’m making my own salad dressings and using honey and maple syrup instead of refined sugar.  I know it’s still sugar, but you can seriously cut the amount.

Then the next weekend when my family came for Thanksgiving it was just a breeze making stuff that everyone could safely consume.  Even though I cooked it.

Honestly, I do concoct edible things.  I don’t know why W and the monkeys are trying to mess with my culinary self-esteem. He is now very wary about what I’m up to in the kitchen and avoids as if it’s poisoned anything containing…..

1. Zucchini or other unidentifiable green things

2.  Gluten free flour or any of those expensive nut flours

3.  Nut butters which are not peanut

4. Vegetables which appear suspiciously turnip-like and often actually are turnips even though I suggest they might be parsnips, which doesn’t really help.

5.  Healthy alternatives.  He would prefer the unhealthy version, thank you very much.

Well all this is making me hungry for honey nut cheerios.  With skim milk, because that makes it perfectly okay.  Right monkeys?

I have something to say to you guys.  Please keep your opinion to yourself.  Turn around if you can’t look.  Don’t eat if it’s going to make you barf.  And leave me alone or I’m moving you all to the basement.

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

This morning I cut my hair myself, something I’ve been messing about doing half my life it seems.  And I’ve spent the other half being upset with, happy with, or puzzled by the results of professional haircuts.  At least when I do it myself I save time, learn something, and am always delighted to use the money and time I would have spent with a hairdresser on something more fun.  And less traumatizing.

When we first moved to the Arctic with our one year old daughter my hair was long and straight.  I wore it pulled back at the neck, braided, up in a pony tail and even in pig tails sometimes.   We lived in an isolated community with few amenities, accessible only by air, and I was pregnant and bored.  There’s a deadly combination.  After weeks of conversing with a toddler because my husband was always working or away, using up all my yarn and craft supplies and watching it snow,  I decided to hack off my hair.  Hey, it passed some time.  I took off only a few inches that first time, but then my mother in law sent me the first curling iron I ever owned and the real experimenting began.

This is me with my two babies (February 1976) after six months in Cambridge Bay and who knows how many self-inflicted hair cuts.  Once my son arrived I had much less time to be bored so the frequency of hair cuts slowed down considerably.

Fast forward to Christmas that same year when we flew to Ontario.  Our son was almost eleven months old and our daughter was two and a half.  I was long overdue for a visit to a salon.  Mothers of young children generally aren’t known for their astute sense of fashion and style, which might explain why I decided to get my hair cut in a “shag”‘ made popular by people like Jane Fonda in the movie Klute.

When I returned with my newly shorn “do” my daughter stopped in her tracks and stared at me.  Not much ever made that kid slow down, so that’s why I remember it.  I picked her up and she grabbed a little fist full of what was left of the hair at my forehead and said “MOMMY ARE YOU IN THERE?”  Yes, my daughter always spoke in caps lock.

image image
And yes, those are bangs. The shortest bangs in history, except maybe for the ones little kids cut by accident on themselves.  I thought you also might enjoy seeing W in a pink paper party hat, and a messy gift opening Christmas Eve.  And my classy shoes?  Don’t miss those.

The great thing about hair is it keeps on growing and after a couple of months I finally made peace with this hair cut.

Jane Fonda, eat your heart out.

Sharing My World 57



If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work?

With cleaning and yard work I wonder if there is anyone who needs help more than I do.  And that’s why I have help already with both of those things. Although this summer I’m going to attempt the lawn maintenance on my own because it’s so expensive and I could use the exercise and I have lots of time for it.  So far I’ve done nothing.  But I have contemplated raking.  Well, that’s a start isn’t it?  I’ve also sighed and rolled my eyes at the flower beds.

W often helps with the cooking (and I don’t even have to pay him for it) but he likes to cook things like potatoes and perogies and bacon.  I would like to hire a soup and salad chef.  Can you imagine how damned healthy I would be if it didn’t involve having to chop things up on my own?  Yes, I am exactly that lazy and often buy salad kits in a bag because putting one together from scratch just feels too labour intensive to be tolerated.  I admire people who can chop things small enough so that a spoonful of soup contains six different vegetables, instead of one hunk of green pepper big enough to choke you.

If this excellent chopper I’ve hired could also do interesting things with chicken and fish and the occasional steak, I would probably never enter the kitchen again.  And no doubt boast about it to my friends.  And have them over for dinner parties.

What makes you laugh the most?

My first thought was to say my daughter because she can make the most ordinary story hilariously funny, but its actually both my kids, especially when they’re together.  One is loud and a little crazy, and the other is deadpan dry humour personified, reminding me of my dad who always said droll things with a completely straight face.  I love that they find the funny in things, and that they’re drawn to people who make them laugh too. Life would be hell if you couldn’t laugh at it.

What was your favorite food when you were a child?

Strangely enough it was little triangular salmon sandwiches.  White bread, canned pink salmon mixed with salt and pepper and white vinegar, real butter on the bread, sweet mixed pickles on the side.  These were a treat for special occasions and picnics and usually meant for company. If we’d had them every day I can’t imagine they would have had the same appeal.  I still love canned salmon, with the bones mashed up in it, and  don’t care at all for fresh salmon.

Second place goes to a concoction my grandmother used to make for us, little potatoes and fresh yellow beans all soft and mushy in a white creamy buttery sauce.  Maybe she made it when we were starving and that’s why I remember it being delicious.  Or maybe it was simply delicious.  I’ve never tried making it myself, afraid to crush the memory.

List at least five favorite flowers or plants.

Sunflowers, daisies, black eyed susans, tiger lilies and anything that has red leaves.  I love the smell of tomato plants and the look of big ripe red tomatoes on the vine.  I might try planting some yellow beans in my back flower bed this year.  They’re supposed to be pretty hard to kill.  Most other plants are no challenge for me, they wither and die if I look at them sideways.  Or don’t look at them at all.  Perhaps that’s part of the problem.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for a quiet week of listening to myself breathe and wondering why I’m wheezy.  Allergy meds don’t seem to have any effect.  Maybe I need something stronger.  Like vodka.  Or weed.

I’m grateful that I’ve finally made it to the end of the last season of Weeds on Netflix.  What a binge watch, and what a bizarre show and what a dumb ending.  I like Mary Louise Parker or I would never have lasted to the final episode.

Next week I have another visit to the university hospital and then I see my family doctor and then I think I will beg them all to leave me alone. Unless of course they find something dire, and then I will rethink that plan.

And THEN I might do some art work.  Sadly, when something begins to feel like work, I stop doing it.  I am looking forward to rekindling the joy.  It’s in here somewhere.


Sharing My World 54


Weekend Artwork by Littlest Granddaughter


How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order?

My brother was born first, followed by me three years later, followed by my sister another three years later, and six years after that, baby sister, spoiled by her siblings.  So I am a middle child, one of three girls, nobody special.  Or incredibly special, I can’t decide.

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

I don’t mind being a passenger, feeling free to let my mind wander or to fall asleep or to give directions or to wonder out loud why we are taking this particularly stupid route.  Well, that’s only when W is behind the wheel.  I don’t mind driving by myself, but I do not like having passengers when I’m driving.  Probably because I’m such a bad passenger/back seat driver myself and also because I like to talk to other drivers on the road without anyone hearing the dumb things I say.  Plus I take wrong turns all the time and nobody needs to know that.

When you lose electricity in a storm, do you light the candles or turn on the flashlight? How many of each do you own?

All W’s flashlights are downstairs in the dark, but I have candles and matches everywhere.  Some family member asked me once why W has so many flashlights and I didn’t know the answer to that one because, like I said, they’re all downstairs somewhere in the dark and I wouldn’t know where to look for them.  I have a little pen sized flashlight in my makeup bag for some obscure reason, and I used to have a light thing dangling from my keys but I don’t know what happened to it.  I never used it because there’s an interior light in the car and the porch light is always on at our back door and I can’t think of a single time I needed to use my keys in the dark.

I’m not sure why I have this uncanny ability to turn the answer to a simple question into a rambling essay.  I light candles.  We own many.

List at least five of your favorite types of animal (any animal to domestic to wild to marine life)

Lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras.  In a previous life I lived in Africa.  Or a zoo.  Or the circus.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

This weekend our eldest grandson attended a special wrestling development clinic at the U of A for wrestlers who got medals at the Alberta Winter Games.  We are incredibly proud of him for doing so well in a sport he’s only just started.

Youngest grandson got to go to an Oilers hockey game, and even though his team “got destroyed” as he explained it, he had a great time.

The girls and I went to see the Zootopia movie in 3D.  Because those special glasses are to die for.  You can pop out the lenses and wear them home.  And the movie was great fun!  They were especially giggly about the sloths.

I put a border on the above artwork by Madison and I’m going to put it up somewhere more important than the fridge.  I love that she made it so colourful and happy.

Not sure what I’m looking forward to in particular this week, but in general, spring.  And summer.  And all the snow disappearing.  Just normal every day stuff.  No crazy wishes or expectations.  I’m happy to keep waking up in the morning.



imageNo, this is not a poster for toothpaste.  Or one for striped shirts or vintage wallpaper, although it could be all of those things.  It’s a Friday flashback to the 1950’s.

In which my mothers face says….

  • OMG I have two children, both dressed and with their hair combed!
  • Did I comb my own hair?  I can’t remember. I will smile BIG and no one will notice!
  • Please hurry up and press the shutter button so I can blink my burning eyes!

Of course I don’t know if she was thinking any of those things.  But she does look like a typical slightly frazzled mom, ready to jump up and get back to the million things she’s in the middle of doing.

The room was in our house, or my grandmas, or my aunts, or some other relatives;  I’m too small to remember any of it, or what is so fascinating somewhere up there on the ceiling.

I do remember how popular wainscotting was though.  Beautiful dark wood paneling half way up the walls.  I’m sure my grandma had it in her kitchen, so maybe that’s where we were.  But it was everywhere.  Perfect for banging your kitchen chairs or other furniture against without damaging the walls or wallpaper.  Not a great drawing surface for kids.

One of my mothers favourite qualities in any household item was its ability to “not show the dirt”.  Her choices for walls and floors and upholstery were firmly based on that.  She was aghast when my sister put champagne coloured carpet in her living/dining room.  It didn’t last long after their kids came along, but it was gorgeous when it was new.

And where has the house dress gone?  All the ladies I knew when I was growing up wore nothing but dresses for every occasion, covered up with an apron if they were doing something messy, to keep them nice.  They also covered up the good furniture with slip covers.  And put their out of season clothes in zipped up garment bags with moth balls.

We are influenced by the past, although I never once felt the urge to do housework in a dress.  I have a sort of faux wainscotting in my kitchen with dark paint on the bottom, light on the top, and a wallpaper border to separate them.  The spare room in the last house my parents owned was done up in green and white ivy wallpaper.  Maybe some things just never get old.  Although maybe they should.

Little kids in striped shirts with big smiles and a doting mom – that’s timeless.

Grandmas Were Not Always Grandmas

imageThis is my maternal grandmother, born in 1887.  Isn’t she gorgeous?  I’m guessing this picture was taken in her late teens or early twenties before she was married.  In the right lower corner there is a ghost hand about which she doesn’t appear to be overly concerned.  We believe the original photo was cut in half , so whoever was sitting opposite her remains a mystery.

I love her tidy dark hair, the high collared blouse and her high-waisted skirt.  That pensive gaze rivals the Mona Lisa.

And here she is, some seventy years later.


Still gorgeous, still smiling, but with a little less hair to pull back with pins.  She is posing with my brother, my sisters and me (on the right), four of her twelve grandchildren.  After this fleeting moment in time she had a lot more years of her life left to live.  An unforgettable lady.

“The more we love the more we lose. The more we lose the more we learn. The more we learn the more we love. It comes full circle. Life is the school, love is the lesson. We cannot lose.”
― Kate McGahan