Thursday, 5 March 2015

Not totally a Rant about the Weather

Many a reader who wanted to read a tale through was not able to do it because of delays on account of the weather. Nothing breaks up an author's progress like having to stop every few pages to fuss-up the weather. Thus it is plain that persistent intrusions of weather are bad for both reader and author.
Mark Twain, The American Claimant

This has been a winter when there has been little to write about except the weather, and that little often modified by weather delays. In fact, it has been the coldest February ever recorded here in eastern Ontario, and January wasn’t much better. So, as Mark Twain points out, persistent intrusions of weather are just plain annoying. In real life, as well as in art, hmm?

Not entirely. Some of us have been having a small competition on Facebook as to whose piles of snow were the highest, whose photographing fingers the coldest, whose woodpile depleting the fastest. Fun. I think everyone I read has had a win in at least one category. I also think enough is enough and if I don’t see at least an icicle within the next few days, I am emigrating. To the equator, or close by.

It has been a short and sobering month, February as well as icy cold. There have been the deaths of a cousin I knew well in our school days, of a good and long time friend and of the husband of a wonderful neighbour, all within the last few weeks, plus the funeral of the father of a fine man with whom I worked for some years. At the beginning of the month JG caught norovirus in his mother’s nursing home and ended up so sick that I called an ambulance to haul him into the Emergency Room to get rehydrated. He was not happy with this, but he is now fine and back to chopping down trees, so I feel justified. Scary call to have to make.

In more quiet hours I have spent a lot of time sorting photographs, both from our Hawaii trip and of the land around here, I have not done the mending (stop laughing!) and I have refilled and rescattered bird feeders and deer food on at least a daily basis. The birds have shown themselves as fluffy balls of appetite and the deer stand  at the edge of the field waiting for the sound of the tops coming off the corn and deer feed containers, surging in toward the feeding station often before I have walked out of sight.

Lately we also have a huge solo male turkey hanging around the feeding station tempting fate. Easter is coming and so is the hunting season for Tom turkeys. This one is safe from me, though. I had a turkey that size to cook at Christmas and it is only just lately,  praise be, that it is finally finished. I hauled the last container of turkey pie makings out of the freezer on the weekend and made two pies, the remnant of one leaving my kitchen with remarkable speed in the hands of my YD, and the other providing a meal for a neighbour and her cat. And the turkey soup was a success at a Hall card party. If I do Christmas next year, it is going to feature a small turkey. A very small turkey. I am too old to be haunted by leftovers.

It is a gorgeous blue-skied day today. I squint when I look out my office window, and if my clothesline were not sagging into the snow piled underneath it, I think I would have hung out the wash. Soon now, quite soon, I will be able to do that, the roads will turn to muddy mush, the birds will start courting and the sap will run. Tomorrow would have been my grandmother’s birthday and should have been the ED’s birthday had she not arrived so very, very late. Would we have called her Irene if she had? It certainly would have been a distinctive name in the ‘60’s.

I note, having had a lot of time to read silly stuff this last chilly while, that my name, Mary, reached it’s top in popularity in the ‘50’s and has dropped away off the bottom of popular names in North America since then. I once worked a summer at a small residential art school where, of the seven of us on staff, three were named Mary. It meant a good response when the cook yelled. And that all of us ended up with double names for that summer. I became Mary Pat, but was able to lose it as soon as the summer was over, thank goodness. I was fifteen that summer and I remember much of it clearly and with nostalgia. Was it also Mark Twain who said, famously, that youth is wasted on the young?

And I think I have just spotted a baby icicle starting to grow. Maybe the snow is shrinking under the clothes line as well.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A Fine Christmas

A fine Christmas

There were, of course, the usual glitches. Some were funny, such as the fact that the tree has no lights and looks splendid in spite of the fact that I put my back out just before I had to climb the ladder to dress the top. Miss G’s lost presents turned up, in plain sight in the storage room, on Christmas Eve after I had looked for them for a week in vain. I am up to M on posted Christmas cards, and the rest of you will get them in January, perhaps. And I have most of the glitter off the carpet this morning. Not all of it, but most of it. And the sticky fingermarks off the microwave. The YD mopped off the kitchen floor last night. The ED packed the frig with unidentified storage boxes but they all fit in. I love my daughters. I really do. 

The setting. Callico Cat did not knock anything off the tree. (A few icicles were knocked down, but humans were responsible.) The dining room table is sturdy enough not to groan in spite of the load of food. The weather stayed reasonable (we will not talk about Christmas Eve fog) for those travelling to Grandmother’s house. 

The feast. The turkey was neither overdone nor underdone. We got the feast onto the table, only forgetting two minor items (one that was on the menu and one not), the pudding sauce finally thickened under my daughter’s firm hand, the buche, while ‘a disaster’ according to its makers, tasted so good that JG ate two large pieces. Finally, the daughters, bless them, did the clearing away, dishwasher packing and hand washing afterwards.

The gifts. The SIL liked his tie, I think, (it had a foot-long fish on it, for reasons best left unexplained), the big gifts were received with amazed pleasure (the eleven year old got a standard mixer that lives up to her expectations), and the surprises were. The biggest thrill, from my point of view, was the delight with which painted portraits of the cats and dog (done by a gifted neighbour on glass balls) were received. The YD did not figure out that the painting we gave her was coming*. And I managed to give JG something he could not manage to guess when he saw the box.

Best of all, Miss G’s giggles as she made the traditional faces to reflect in the mirror that backs the dining room buffet.

*The YD has a friend who does really fine paintings. There was one that she really admired that the friend was willing to sell. Miss G and I had a day in December when we made presents and ran errands to pick up presents. One of the errands was to pick up the painting. We went for tea with the painter and her spouse, got the painting, and I wrote up the day on the internet, including the tea which featured diving fruitcake and the painter’s dog. Then a moment of clarity occurred and I realized that not only must I edit out that story but also we all needed to refrain from mentioning the visit, lest the YD clue in. Painter and her husband (who made the amazing fruitcake) co-operated splendidly, Miss G kept the secret perfectly and I was the only goat, mentioning that it was husband’s fruitcake when we got a gift of a large (yeah!) piece on Christmas Eve. The YD did not pick up on that and the surprise was perfect. Phew.

The important things were all there. Laughter, pleasure, surprise, good food and good company. Even if Miss G pointed out at the dessert stage that I had not lit the table candle. Faces alight with pleasure supplied the lack.

I hope your day was as warm and wonderful. And may your New Year be merry and bright.

ps Here is the montage that the YD asked me to make to send to her friends about the portrait balls.


Hey,  I waant my portrait photo in here too! Purr! Callie

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


It’s December and so I guess it is time for Procrastinating Mary to write a November post. I’ve been thinking about this for some time, but this morning (um, afternoon by seven minutes) I am distracted by a beautiful snowfall. Huge fat white flakes are sifting down and clinging on branch and weed and railing. In fact, snow is falling on my garden, dancing lightly (?) swiftly down. Hmm. Should google that. 

In truth, this is our second snowfall. We had a dump in latish November of over five inches of wet, packy, perfect-for-snowmen snow. JG did not clean this off, being in the throes of repairing the big snowblower (new bearings, bashing out the bends in the blades and scoop, new chain), some parts of which I ended up fetching from Ottawa for him, although he did not trust me to get the right chain. We also made a multitude of trips, it seems like, to get our new central vacuum working. It did work for a few days after we got it and then the new hose refused to suck. Shop replaced pin. No joy. Shop replaced hose. No joy. JG lugged canister back to shop and we finally had a working machine. Sigh. Luckily the old hose did continue to function through this, so my cleaner did not quit.

My cleaner is a brave lady – she even tackled the kitchen after my baking frenzies. We have two events at the Community Hall in November, the big 350+ person Hunters’ Dinner, and a Christmas Craft show. We need pies for the first, well over 60 pies, and cookies and squares for the second as we serve a small lunch for shoppers and vendors. No, I did not make 60 pies, but for me I made quite a few and a pile of gingerbread men and sugar Christmas trees on the second round. These events are fundraisers for the Hall, as we get only a small support from our Township Council, and I am pleased to say that we did well on both.

The Hunters’ Dinner is a zoo. On top of our usual local hunt camp denizens, this year we had two school buses full of hunters from the next county arrive, much to our surprise as no one had warned us, and in consequence we were scraping the beef pans by the end and the poor hungry staff (sniff) did not get any meat. Our hall is essentially a three room building. Main hall has a stage with two small rooms behind that and it is entered through a smaller annex with the kitchen to the left of that. We lay the food out on serving tables in the annex and people take their food and are seated at tables in the main hall where they also pick up drinks and dessert. Needless to say, the door between the two halls is a horrendous bottleneck. This November we had two traffic cops seating people and I ran backup, necessitating broken field running through the entering and milling crowd to refill the water jugs and help with resetting tables. Good shoes and sharp elbows are helpful.

Shortly after I recovered from that (two days prep, plus baking, plus the day), Miss G had her practice Gym Meet at her club and JG and I went in to watch. Miss G is now eleven, has been moved up a competitive level and has things like a handstand on the high bar and a press to handstand mount onto the beam to show off. She did well,
 beam mount

 Back tuck portion of tumbling line. Not Enough Light, she said, whining.

but my photographs are not great as I need to see a routine a lot of times before I can get a clean still photo of the best bits. (You can see me in red coat gripping my camera and JG behind me, reflected in the mirror on the far wall.) Since then she has had her first real qualifying Meet and did splendidly, although she (and her former gymnast mother) can list every bobble she make.

While running back and forth with the vacuum hose we also managed to get most of the Christmas shopping done, thank goodness, before the weird Canadian version of Black Friday gummed everything up.
And I got to spend a fine day (PD Day off school) with Miss G manufacturing a Christmas gift for her father and taking her to run errands and pick up other gifts. And I just realized that I cannot write this day up without giving away one of the YD’s Christmas gifts. Well, I can tell the story in January.
And I may even get a post up in between. If I get the mending and sewing under control and if the YD really meant it when she said she would help with the tree.  Have to have a tree, as the family is coming here for Christmas dinner. Must. Order. Turkey. Soon.
Twenty-two days. And counting.