Friday, 23 April 2010

Holy Wow, Aging Has Finally Caught Me!


Okay – so I’m going to be 45 this year. Forty-freakin’-five.

A couple of weeks ago, I was primping in front of the mirror when a noticeably lighter hair popped up and said hello. Blonde? Nope. Gray. Gray gray gray.

My first reaction? Cool! I’ve finally earned these two badges of honour. Yes, only two, but obviously they’ve talked and have decided to colonize.

I stepped back. Then I stepped closer to the mirror. I tried to separate the grays from the herd of healthy brunette strands but they are wily little creatures. I knew not to pluck them. Someone told me once that if you pluck your gray hairs, the souls of the gray hairs to come get really angry and decide to move in to your scalp earlier, and in massive replacement numbers. So, no plucking.

But how did I feel about these hairs? I mean really, how do we feel when we notice our first gray hair?

One of my namesakes, Cousin Joy, had a beautiful head of amazing silver hair – just shiny and bountiful and a really striking colour – not gray or washed out – but singing with silver, you know what I mean? Her silver hair came in when she was younger, but it arrived on her head with a red carpet and some paparazzi for all to see and pay attention to those beautiful silver locks.

Nope. Don’t think that’s me.

I didn’t cover the gray – I actually went straight to my husband and said “Look what you’ve done to me!”

He then pointed to his sexily silvered temples and said “Would you care to explain how YOU did all this, then?”

Yes, I kissed him soundly and scampered out of the room before I started confessing.

So – gray hair. That was the beginning. Now I look down and I see my mom’s hands when she was my age. I can see where my laugh lines are laying their blueprints, and suddenly there’s a sparse moustache to contend with. Sigh. My muscles hurt when I do silly things. I can actually injure my back while petting the cat.

But here’s what I think about all this aging stuff (today anyway). We all seem to get better looking as we age – up to a point when you start resembling a great big grown-up, wrinkled baby – but more importantly - WE ALL AGE!

Go ahead and spend thousands on pretending to stop your aging – you could start as early as 23 like Heidi Montag – the idiot who ruined her already pretty face and body. IDIOT!

Or, be like me – use the stuff that keeps you healthy and feeling good. Tell yourself that your concealer is really working and that your pores are still as tiny as a baby’s. Put a little more colour in your hair and a little more lotion on your hands – and tell yourself that age is just a state of mind . . .

Keep repeating until you believe it.

Then, when you step away from the mirror, don’t move to fast or you might hurt your aging back.

If that doesn’t work – start hanging out with really old people and you will feel like that young hot thing that you still are. . . it’s just that you’ve been around the wine cellar once or twice, youknowwhatImean?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Italian Espresso Roasting, California Style

I’d like to introduce you to Ellie.

Ellie is 51 and roasts her own E-Bay bought coffee beans in her back yard.

Okay, that may not sound like too much excitement, but a lucky (I’m sure – chosen - even) few were privy to her secrets and the tools of her trade. I will start by using the one sentence that Ellie started the whole process with as she took us to her back yard picnic table. “This is a simple process.” Remember that.

First, Ellie shows us a 1950’s caramel corn maker, with an agitator at the bottom to keep things moving. She plugs in a digital thermometer and tells us she’s just going to warm things up a bit.

Next, she drops raw coffee beans (no taste, no smell that I can discern) into the contraption until the agitator starts moving back wards. She pulls out about a dozen beans, because the agitator shows you how many beans to put in by its movement. Huh?

Ellie then puts the lid on her home-made roaster and tells us that the beans will go through a series of smells, none of them pleasant. She also tells us that we are waiting to hear the first crack of the beans as they are roasting. Simple? What?

Ellie explained that as the beans heat, they crack (it sounds like popcorn), but this is only the first crack. And Ellie is right; the beans smell like they are burning. Not a nice aroma at all. In fact, based on the smell, I could give up coffee completely.

Now that the first crack and three or four acrid smells have assaulted our nostrils, Ellie says we are waiting for the second crack of the beans, which is, by the way, a very distinctive sound that is quite different from the first crack.

I ask why these husk like things are flying all over. Ellie shows us the (simple) holes she’s drilled into her roasting machine, so the chaff flies out. The holes are bigger than the chaff, so it can easily separate itself from the beans.

I don’t know about you, but I think chaff flying out of any size hole sounds like a bad thing, and about this time, I think I have landed in the Ozarks at a distillery of one of my Hatfield ancestors.

The second crack has come and gone (not that I heard anything) and now our nostrils are being assailed with an amazing aroma that makes my brain scream ‘give me coffee NOW!’

After the beans have been cooled with a shop-vac colander contraption, the beans are ready. They find their way to the grinder, to the percolator, to my cup. And Ellie, here’s to you, for one of the best cups of coffee I have ever tasted. But girl, that process is anything but simple.

From 1/3/2007

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Magic of the Moon


The other night I heard a pack of wolves in the woods behind us start their woeful howling. It was a bit spooky sounding. Even the crickets and frogs stopped to listen to their distant cry. I checked to make sure I had a good stash of silver and fell asleep thinking about the magic of the moon.

The full effects of the moon can only be felt in a quiet spot far from city lights. The stars only come out in the country where they know they’ll be appreciated. They only remove themselves from the canvas to take a back seat to the moon's allure. Anyone in Lanark County can tell you of a few hundred perfect spots to see the night sky as it’s meant to be seen.

Let's take a walk in the moonlight. If the right person says it to you, your knees get weak at the prospect of a magical night. You’ll be positively a-twitter with the possibilities. You'll link fingers and look at each other, and you won't believe how beautiful your date is. There's something about the night that makes you know it's time for the first kiss.

Would the moment be the same without the moon?

You wish you remembered what your date looks like and realize what a stupid idea it was to wander in the blind dark with a person you barely know. You both laugh it off when you almost run into a tree. You're going in for that magical first kiss and get a clumsy mouth full of the tree trunk you thought he was leaning against. He's already face down in the grass because he thought you were just little bit to the left. You'd both be laughing if not for your splinters and his broken nose. No moon, no second date.

And why does a full moon create werewolves? Some believe that Hollywood perpetuated the full-moon thing. Apparently real werewolves change voluntarily. I read it on the Internet, so it must be true. If they can change on a whim, why not save the nasty transformation for a more practical time -- say, when the tax auditor shows up?

Let’s take the ‘creepy’ moon away from Hollywood. Let's tell the were-people that they are no longer allowed to use our magical moon as an excuse for their bad behaviour. Let’s choose to believe that fireflies are really faeries sent to twitter across your path with enchanted dust ensuring sweet dreams for the night to come.

There’s a little bit of Swiss cheese in that moon for anyone who cares to believe it exists. That man is there, writing down all our dreams as they float past him every night. There are magical moonlight walks, dances, kisses and incredible memories that can only be made when that light shines for us. It’s mystical and wondrous and, if we're lucky, it will keep shining for us for generations to come, spreading a little moon dust magic on the way.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Weights and Treadmills and Personal Trainers, Oh My!

(A re-post of a favourite of mine. Thanks for the indulgence.)

When I was in my twenties, the gym was a place to see and be seen. Sure, we went to work out, but at the time, it was more about how cute the boys looked in their muscle shirts, and how colour coordinated we were in our gym attire.

Now, my metabolism is on permanent vacation, and my body is telling me that it’s quite happy to lead the sedentary lifestyle. My mind is slightly mutinous and tends to side with my body, telling me that laying around isn’t such a bad thing, that it helps with cell regeneration and stuff.

However tempting that may sound, if I don’t fight the laziness, the ease of sinking into that perfect corner of the comfy couch, I’ll soon become a part of the furniture and Peter will never find me again, until I give him clues with general demands to bring me an iced cap from Timmy’s before Paradise Falls comes on.

And so I joined the gym. The day I signed away a year of my life I went in all proud and strong and a little too loud “I want to join the gym!” I think I was loud enough to squelch the inner screaming of my muscles, cringing in fear. I think I startled the girl behind the desk.

After getting my card, I asked for a training session and was told that I could meet with a trainer the following Thursday. I decided to use the treadmill until then, because all of the other machines look like bionic octopi or something. At the end of my 45 minutes, I thought “I can do this, it’s not so bad.” I kept visiting the treadmill until my appointment, thinking I was going to show that trainer, after I’d built up a week’s worth of cardio.

And that’s where it all went horribly, scarily wrong.

She is way too cute and perky. Her smile lights up the room, and she is as bouncy and energetic as a 6-month-old pup. I loved her and hated her on sight, and kind of wanted to rub her belly. But mostly, I hoped I could catch some of her vibe, so I could build up some excitement for the hell she was about to put me through.

And she did her best, smiling the whole time. Hell started with the legs, then went to the arms, the back, the abs, and, Lord help me, there’s a machine that helped me do my very first pull up. She ADDED it to my routine because she was so proud of me.

I felt like I kept up pretty well. I only sat the wrong direction on two machines, because her way just didn’t make sense. When I fight a bionic octopus, I want to be able to face it. The trainer won. I did it her way. And the octopus won.

I’ve got to go change now. I’ve got a harpoon and some chum, and a bionic octopus to conquer.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Daily Travels and Things I Saw

Seriously, I know our world isn’t quite this sad. Although both scenes depicted images that could be interpreted as distasteful, sacrilegious and possibly disrespectful, I leave it to you to decide.

Me? I thought totally hilarious on both counts. Gotta love the creativity of the human race.



Totally dig this ride. You can’t see the detail – and although the windows are scary black, as in – can’t-see-inside-so-there-might-actually-BE-a-body-in-there black, I’m pretty sure this is a non-servicing Hearse. The center of the hub caps sport some pretty sweet skulls that I am sure would sparkle in the sun had it not been hidden behind the clouds. I hope I get to see this Hearse when the owner has finished his vision. I would call Pimp My Ride for this bad boy – oh yes I would.


Now seriously – how can you NOT laugh at this? On the side of  an overpass in Smiths Falls. Hey, we know who will prevail in the end, but it’s nice to know someone is pulling for the pigeons.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

People are Funny

You know easy it is to get to road rage, right? You don’t have to own a particularly nasty temper or a short fuse – you just have to, oh – I don’t know. . . drive a car. . . eventually, it will happen.

Say you’re driving on a country road, no cars anywhere. There’s a utility truck pulled off the side of the road about 50 yards ahead and a stoplight about 20 yards past him. All told, a pretty nice drive.

Until the utility truck decides he needs to get ahead of me at that red light and whips a u-turn to shoot in front of me and slam on his brakes. My purse flies off the seat and I curse in Disney language.

Since I am somewhat polite, I don’t do the clichéd finger-flipping and name calling and honking. Instead I shake my head while he watches me in his side mirror. I hope I am channelling the what-on-earth-did-that-get-you-buddy-I-am-so-disappointed-and-your-momma-would-be-too look. I continue to shake my head as he lumbers forward at the green light. And you know he’s lumbering, because really, what good would it do for it to be a fast truck that was worried about getting behind a little ol’ Dodge?

Oh, and I might add that I could understand his urgency if there were a pile of cars behind me. Nobody can be blamed for wanting to beat a long line of traffic. But NO, there was no other traffic. Of course not.

So in my head, I am running the litany of complaints about general incompetence.

After several miles the road became two-lanes. There was a car in front of me. I was parallel to utility man. The light, about 50 yards away, was about to turn yellow.

Oh yes, I took my chance.

Butted right in front of him like he did to me and coasted to a smooth stop in front of him at the red light.

I see hand gestures in my rear-view mirror and know what he’s saying, though I don’t think it’s sign language.

And it made me laugh. He saw me laugh in the mirror, and it made him laugh.

I stuck my hand out the window and gave him the finger. Okay, not really – I gave him a thumbs up. He returned with a thumbs up as well, knowing I’d technically won that little round of road sarcasm.

If only we could take all of life’s little annoyances and turn them into laughter.

Monday, 5 April 2010


Peter and I have decided we’re going to have a ‘gourmet’ night once a week. Now this doesn’t mean we’re trying to cook our way through Bon Appétit or anything snobby like that, but I did discover something about my husband that I didn’t know.

Peter and I were talking about cooking Hungarian Paprika chicken for dinner, and we went looking for the recipe in our recipe cupboard.

Do any of you have a cupboard, or a drawer, or a folder where you put all your recipes? The ones you tear from magazines or the newspaper – with those good intentions of trying them out some day?

Yes, ours is a cupboard. And in this cupboard is a blue binder. In this binder are about 200 pages of college-ruled notebook paper. On on this notepaper, front and back, painstakingly printed in efficient handwriting are recipes. Recipes for all kinds of meals, from all sort of places. Recipes that are alphabetized and cross-indexed and organized.

How had I been married to this guy for all these years and have never opened that binder? How did I not know that he’d gone through the trouble of collecting all these recipes?

Truthfully, this binder makes my Philly Cream Cheese box top recipes look rather pathetic.

When I asked Peter about the binder, he didn’t think it was such a big deal – but I did. He’d written all these recipes down after collecting them. He’d done it when he lived in Vancouver more than 20 years ago. He’d prepared a few recipes housed in this binder, but most were still untested.

And that’s when we decided. Time to test some recipes. And after we test them, we’ll share them with you.

Maybe you’d like to cook with your favourite person or people. The best part – besides the so-far-so-good gastrointestinal pleasure, is that Peter and I are having fun.

We’re not spending the money going out to eat. We’re buying more whole foods and such, which is better eating for all involved, and we’re connecting as only best friends can. With music, laughter and a shared passion for yummy food.

Below is the recipe for Hungarian Paprika Chicken. Try it and let us know how you like it!

Our recipe was prepared while we sipped red wine and listened to a Beatles retrospective on Chez 106. In the news that day was the guy on the plane with the bomb in his underwear.

That’s as snobby as we get.

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH WITH NOKEDLI (Worth every minute it took to make it – triple yummm score.)

Ingredients Needed (chicken):

  • 6 whole chicken breasts
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 16 small white onions
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika
  • 8 small carrots
  • 2 cans (10.75 oz) chicken broth
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • parsley

Ingredients Needed (nokedli):

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup water
  1. Wash chicken; dry on paper towels. Cut each breast in half. brown chicken, 1/2 at a time in 2 tbsp butter in large skillet with tight-fitting cover. turning to brown well. Takes about 20 minutes in all. With tongs, lift out chicken as it browns.
  2. Add 2 tbsp butter in same skillet, add whole and chopped onions with 1 Tbsp paprika until lightly browned. Cut carrots diagonally in 1 1/2” pieces. Add carrots to onions, sauté for 2 minutes, stir in undiluted chicken broth and 2 Tsp salt.
  3. Arrange chicken in skillet in single layer, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
  4. Once chicken is tender, remove from skillet and place on a platter, keeping it covered and warm in a 300 degrees oven while you make the Nokedli and gravy.
  5. PREPARE NOKEDLI: In a large bowl – combine 2 3/4 cups flour, eggs, 1 tsp salt and 1 cup water. Beat with a spoon until smooth.
  6. Boil 2 quarts of water with 2 teaspoons of salt (for boiling of Nokedli).
  7. Using a moistened spatula, spread dough over the surface. Holding the spatula over the water, use a table knife to scrape off small portions of the dough into the boiling water. Cook 1 – 4 at a time until firm. When they are finished they rise to the top. Use a slotted spoon to remove. Keep them warm and add a small amount of butter. Repeat this process until you have all Nokedli (dumplings, really) made.
  8. GRAVY: In a small bowl mix remaining flour with wine until smooth. Add to skillet, stir all liquid together while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes
  9. Slowly add sour cream, heat gently for 1 minute.
  10. Remove platter of chicken from oven.  Add Nokedli and pour gravy over all to taste. Add parsley for garnish. Bring extra gravy to the table. Serves 6.
  11. You don’t want to know the nutritional contents. Really.

Too Good Not to Share: From The Secret Daily Teachings

“Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful. If you are feeling tension, you are not being grateful. If you are rushing, you are not being grateful. If you are in a bad mood, you are not being grateful.

Gratitude can transform your life. Are you allowing minor things to get in the way of your transformation and the life you deserve?

May the joy be with you.”

A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne
Creator of The Secret