Friday, 28 December 2007

Post Christmas Inventory

Turkey carcass: one, dumped in the bush to give the coyotes and wolves a Christmas treat. (I couldn't face making soup this year!)
Turkey meat: three bags full. In spite of what the family lugged home Christmas Day. (JG ordered a 22 lb bird and got a 23.2 lb one. It did look impressive but, boy, was it heavy to lift.)
Gravy, dressing and cranberry: many plastic containers thereof.
Salads: some got eaten. There is a lot of coleslaw boxed up somewhere in there.
Whipped cream: ditto.

Dessert: After the family packed their spoils I still have: half a pumpkin pie; half a mince and pumpkin pie; half an apple pie; most of a chocolate torte cake; most of a fruitcake; two containers of Christmas cookies; three boxes of chocolates; assorted chocolate goodies including an untouched chocolate log; five calling birds, three French hens ……….no, wait, stop that!

I am holding a Dessert Party this evening. I have invited the neighbours. Got to get rid of some of this calorific pelf.

I won't get started on the cheese leftovers list -- we're eating that, too, by golly.

Just to mention -- Little Stuff's face when she hauled the stuffed moose out of its bag was priceless. She now has it at her house and her mother says she has rigged up a harness for it out of Christmas ribbon, to pull it with because it is too big for her to carry. But she assures her mother that it is a housebroken moose.

Little Stuff also got an Island Princess Barbie from Santa Claus. It has a turquoise dress with sparkles and a peacock fan. She and her mother bought one of these early in December to give to an 'Angel Tree' child and Little Stuff was enthralled with it. When she asked for it as her Santa gift, her mother was unable to find the identical doll but I was able to pick one up. I was assigned the task of making an additional outfit for this doll, and so I very carefully extracted her from her packaging. But when I picked her up, she started to sing, causing me to lift two feet off my sewing table chair. The wretched toy has a necklace that, when depressed, starts the 'Island' song in a shrill and garbled voice.

Needless to say, Christmas day was a bit noisy. Little Stuff would pop into the kitchen and depress the stud. Grandma would say 'Get that thing OUT of here!' Little Stuff, consumed with giggles, would then return to the living room and repeat the process, whereupon Daddy would say 'That's enough singing!' and she would swing back to the kitchen, depress the stud………………..! !!! Finally her other grandmother took pity on the cooks and distracted her.

The turkey was marvelous -- tender, moist and full of flavour. Big turkeys do cook better, says the voice of over forty years' experience. But even forty years of garnering leftover recipes is not enough.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Red Velvet Angel

Cripes, Here Comes Santa Claus

My link function seems to be down. Sorry!

The Elder Daughter called last night to tell me that Little Stuff's Christmas Concert is this afternoon. Little Stuff's class will be singing Chansons de Noel, she is requested to inform me, and teacher's instructions are that the children are to dress like princes and princesses. And would Grama and Grandpa like to come? Well, of course. But Grandpa left an hour ago for a meeting that will take all day. It is now 8:00 am, and as I look out the window, freezing rain is settling on everything like a silver scarf. However, if it stops I will attempt to make the hour drive, as the sight of Little Stuff in her Christmas red velvet dress with lace stockings, glittery shoes and a red velvet headband is one that I would be sad to miss. Even if she is overcome with stage fright, as well may happen.

For a wonderful description of a joyous Christmas concert child, take a look at Andrea's post about Frances' debut at A Garden of Nna Mmoy.

I have been reading a most riveting book, The Price of Motherhood. Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued. By Ann Crittenden. Crittenden is a journalist, former reporter for the New York Times, and, judging by this book, a most formidable researcher and analyst. The book was published in 2001 but I do believe most of the issues and data are very current for 2008. And the book has really shaken me, partly because I did not know how much worse off American women are than Canadian.

I know, because I deal with the effects, how debilitating low income motherhood is for both the mothers and the children. I wrote a bit about the effects in a November post titled 'Charity Begins at Home'. And I have long thought that working like mad to support food banks and remedial programs, to provide simple things like picture books and Christmas stockings and snowsuits as 'charity' is the least productive way to deal with this huge problem. Crittenden has a chapter of ideas on the subject, which I intend to get into later. I don't have the time to do it now because I have a house full of tasks to accomplish before Christmas, and I am almost time critical.

What? A woman with all her children grown and retired from her work years is time critical? Yes, indeed. I am cooking Christmas dinner for the whole crew, for one thing. This will give the ED one day off her incredible schedule of full time work combined with homemaking for her four year old and stepsons. Helpful as her partner is, her life is a series of compromises. The (single and childless) YD contemplated putting on Christmas dinner this year, but her travel schedule is extremely heavy and boiled down to a choice of either hosting or visiting her 91 year old grandmother for a pre Christmas visit. I also have some Board tasks over the next two days, the house to decorate, a Barbie doll dress to make (this deserves a post of its own!) other home made Christmas presents to finish (I procrastinate) and a pile of other self imposed but traditional Christmas stuff to do. Countdown, six days. One of which is today, and the rain seems to have stopped, so I am off to a concert, camera in hand.

Little Stuff told her mother that it was okay if I didn't come as long as her mother took lots of pictures. She is used to being put second, poor little mutt. The least I can do is get there myself.
Ho, ho, ho.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Ah, Winter!

Mid afternoon on Sunday
Monday morning

Here is a view of our laneway yesterday afternoon and another one I took this morning. I understand from the news that the 50 cm (over 1 ½ feet) of snow that fell on us yesterday originated in a storm mass in Texas. (Note to Julie -- next time you can keep it, okay? And I'll keep the 'arctic air mass coming down from Canada'.) Atlantic Canada is supposed to be getting it today, complete with freezing rain and wind gusts. It all fell as snow here -- the small grainy stuff that stiffens up quickly, for which I am sure the Innuit have a word. What our neighbourhood was calling it would probably be censored by Google.

Fortunately we are equipped for lots of snow. JG put the big auger on the tractor and was just starting to clear the yard when a neigbour pulled in with yet another, even bigger, tractor and punched a slot up our laneway. His son had been here earlier, having waded in to call home and say that he had stuck this big tractor by driving into a ditch he couldn't see. So I guess Dad took over. The family hires this big rig out to clear a lot of lanes in our neigbourhood and it takes a lot to get them stuck. I don't imagine Dad was in a good mood.

One of the YD's friends was wishing for snow last week to make the skiing better. He and Wendy went out Sunday to the Gatineau just as the worst of the snow dump hit Ottawa. The YD said that they broke trail for twelve kilometres, with the snow getting deeper and deeper, and then got stuck big time back in Ottawa trying to get into her driveway. There are lots and lots of storm stories.

Here's the problem, though. I have a shoulder high pile of snow all around the porch and steps. Where am I going to put the stuff the next time it snows? It's a long, long time until spring.
This should have been the Monday Mission. Sorry!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wordy Wednesday -- Drat, and other expletives.

Okay, this is not my day. My links won't work. My computer has locked down completely. Twice. Bogger won't save template changes. Blogger saves template changes but stretches them. Blogger saves template changes in negative colour. Blogger keeps telling me to report these errors, but I have no idea --- NO idea, Blogger help -- as to how to report them.

I am not amused. This is not funny any more. My husband's underwear is all sitting in the washer and I do not dare leave the computer to go and put it in the dryer lest some other bloggy gremlin sneak in and fry something else while I am gone.

In fact, @#$%^&*****!!!

I am going to shut down and start all over again. After the underwear is dry. Too bad for the nice photo that was going to appear here today.

I should have labelled this post 'drinking', as in Blogger is driving me to.... At least the colour formatting is working.

Do other people have days like this, she whined?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Just Posts

For those of you who are not aware of what the Just Post logos in the margins signify, the fastest way to learn about them, and about the wonderful women who manage them, is to go to Under the Mad Hat, whose blog explains the concept and lists all the awardees, as well as linking to the other bloggers who began the operation with her.

I am really pleased (well, tickled pink would better describe it) to have received a nomination this month for this November post: Charity Begins at Home. Thanks for picking it up, and more thanks for tolerating the lack of precision in it.
The Just Posts have been around for a year now. I hope there is a celebration after Christmas chaos has rolled over us. I think the concept and the people behind it are wonderful.

Monday Mission -- Creating Christmas.

This week's Monday Mission was to get creative with photo-editing software (I use Corel's PhotoPaint). Since I love doing this stuff I tried to be extremely, wipe your eye, creative. (After all, I'm in the same cosmos with Julie the whiz photographer and other amazingly gifted folk.) I built a Christmas tree with the ornaments zooming forward. When I tried to load it, Blogger did not, to put it mildly, co-operate. Nope. It paused, hung and finally rejected my offering. Which caused my computer, in turn, to hang and have to be rebooted. I thought I was inside the size limit, but something didn't work. And so -- you will just have to use your imaginations.

In my household, we do not buy Christmas trees. We schlep out into the bush and cut one. Since in my household we long ago gave up trying to trim trees in situ ahead of time, this trip involves much arguing between JG and me about the size and branchiness of the tree. He likes tall. I like enough branches to hold my ornament collection. This year, he won.

The chosen tree was on the bank of one of the beaver ponds, and we have a lot of snow already. What shape and branchiness the uncut tree demonstrated was somewhat changed by being 1.) dragged through the snow and slush on the pond and 2.) loaded onto the back of the Kubota to be trundled home and 3.) the tip being inadvertently dragged behind all the way back. When we got it home both the top and the bottom had to be trimmed.

A little tinsel covers a multitude of sins.

I have a wonderful collection of angels for my tree, thoughtfully collected over many years. Some are gifts my peripatetic YD has brought back from foreign trips. This one is from Kosovo, I think.

This one is hand made, and very delicate. It works to hang it high on the tree on a branch that will not support the weight of a glass ball.

And this one was chosen by Little Stuff. The head is bisque. As you can see, all the angels are set off by red shiny balls and stars. I have two sets of lights, because I switched to the cool LED ones a year too soon and, since I did not like the blued white, bought gold. The next year the manufacturers came out with a good white. And so, one year there are white angels, red ornamants and white lights, and the next year there are gold ornaments and gold lights. Although I enjoy this, it does make for a storage problem. There are lots of plastic boxes in the basement shelves and I have to figure out which ones I need on any given year. Some year I may even label them, impossibly organized as that seems.

Edited to say: Good grief! I wish I knew the principles behind some of the positioning decisions this text editor makes. I have now simply stacked the thing; not good, but maybe better.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Monday Mission- School Note

It is one long long time since I have been in highschool. However, since then I have had a lot of experience with public school notes. Like this:

September 10th
Dear Mrs Smith,
Suzy is having a great deal of trouble getting her shoes on and off. Nor can she button her sweater. I would appreciate it if you would give her some instruction to remedy these matters as with twenty two children to manage, I cannot be responsible for dressing the children.
Miss Pedagogue, Suzy's Kindergarten Teacher

September 11th
Dear Miss Pedagogue,
I have laced Suzy's shoes with elastic.
Mary Smith, Suzy's mother.

October 1st
Dear Mrs Smith
We are finding that Suzy does not do well with the quiet time we give our students in mid afternoon. She will not lie quietly on her towel and does not seem to need the rest. We are therefore proposing to send her to the French class in the Kindergarten Primary room for those twenty minutes. I hope this meets with your approval.
Miss Pedagogue

Oct 2nd.
Dear Miss Pedagogue
This is fine with both Suzy's father and me. Suzy has not needed a nap for several years and has never shown signs that she should have one.
Mary Smith

Oct 21
Dear Mrs Smith
Could you please purchase a pair of plastic scissors for Suzy. We cannot trust her with the metal blunt ended ones that are all we have available. I am sorry about her braid.
Miss P Pedagogue.

Nov 3rd
Dear Miss Pedagogue
Would it be possible for me to have a schedule of when the children will be using poster paint so that I can send Suzy to school on those days dressed in her older clothes.
Thank You,
Mary Smith

Nov 15th
Dear Mrs Smith
Could you please speak to Suzy about rocking her chair when we are sitting at our desks? I do not seem to be having any effect on preventing this behaviour.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Miss Pedagogue

November 30
Dear Mrs Smith
We sincerely regret that Suzy should have become stuck in the snow bank at the back of the parking lot. We try to have the playground clear and to make sure all of our students stay away from the deeper snow but we obviously lost track of Suzy sometime during recess. We will try to ensure that this does not happen again.
Joseph Stuckley
Principal, Maple Lane School

Dec 1st
Dear Mr Stuckley
Do not worry about the snowbank incident. The highschool boys who pulled her out were very kind and I am sure that her boots will reappear this spring when the snow melts. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much Suzy is enjoying school.
Mary Smith

Time: Friday, Dec 13
To: Personnel, Teaching
From: J. Stuckley, Principal Maple Lane School
Re: Winter term replacement Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Patty P is hors de combat and is going to Florida to 'rest her nerves'. She refuses to come back to work.
For the love of Pete, send me a replacement who is young, agile and possessed of a strong nervous system.


Dec 15th
Dear Parents,
It is with great regret that we send you the news that our beloved Miss Pedagogue has decided to take an early retirement and will not be back after the Christmas Holiday. She has been finding it harder and harder to cope and while we will miss her, I am sure you will all join me in wishing her a swift recovery.
Joseph StuckleyPrincipal, Maple Lane School

She's not Picasso, but...

Because I loved to paint and draw as a child, I hoped that my kids would develop a like interest. But once they got beyond the crayon on the wall stage, they just weren't into it. Sewing, yes and knitting (sporadically), but not paper and paint. At an age when I was making murals and decorations for school dances, they were playing in the band and doing sports. Like most toddlers, Little Stuff amused herself with washable markers and madly colourful squiggles but her brothers and, indeed, that whole side of the family is also musical and sports minded.

Imagine my delight, then, when in the last few months Little Stuff has exited the squiggles stage and has taken to drawing as one of her main interests. She still didn't have a lot of control of the pen this summer but in the last three months she has begun to draw what I think are very good 'pictures' (as she calls them) for her age, which is 4 1/2. Here is her latest attempt.

The story that goes with the drawing is also pretty clever. "The prince is very sad because he doesn't have a nice coloured stripy dress like the queen so he is crying," explained Little Stuff. "Look grama, I can draw mitts now. See the yellow spots -- that's the holes in her ears for her earrings." When I asked what the blue person was I got told off. "grAma! That's her CAT!" And so it is. Whiskers and all.

What's the good of a blog if you can't be a boastful grandmother from time to time. So here I am hugging myself and hoping she will stay interested so that in this family of musicians and jocks I will have one soul mate.