"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Spilled Milk?

I was thrilled when the Globe & Mail published the tongue-in-cheek essay I wrote about my experiences milking cows. (The very first draft was crafted here in my blog, for those of you to whom it sounds familiar)

The Facts & Arguments column is widely read across the country, so I was nothing less than tickled to know that my humble little article would appear there (illustrated, no less) for all to see. I thought it would be a nifty little feather in my writer's cap and something to clip out and show my Dad on Easter weekend.

What I didn't count on was the 30 reader comments it generated in the online version. Apparently I ticked off quite a few animal lovers and what my friend Bryan calls "the politically correct crowd." There were several positive comments too, and of course both my sisters jumped in to defend me, but I was taken aback by the mini-lectures I received on animal cruelty. But I love cows! I've never hurt one in my life! I just don't think they're the sharpest knives in the drawer. It was all in fun, people! Sheesh.

As another friend pointed out, "Thank goodness for free speech - otherwise we'd never know who the crazies are." Guess if I'm gonna be a writer, I will need to start developing a thicker skin and remember that not everyone is going to enjoy my stuff.

The article is here if you want to judge for yourself whether my misguided sense of humour about cows was truly offensive. And hey...at least people read it!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

All quiet on the Bloggern front?

Can't say that I've felt much like blogging lately. I could chalk it up to the weather - it seems like someone hit the almighty pause button and we're stuck somewhere between winter and spring - or possibly the fact that the anniversary of Rose's birth/death is creeping up. Not to mention the relentless approach of my 39th birthday (eek!).

I had such a hankering to travel in Feb/March, and that didn't work out. I really wanted to go for a vacation somewhere before Bumbo's arrival. I half-planned a visit to Ottawa on the train for Winterfest; I've been dying to see the National Gallery, eat a few beaver tails and watch people skate along the canal. But those plans got kiboshed due to health issues which, thankfully, have resolved themselves...but still...now I find I'm longing for a sunny beach somewhere, anywhere, and a pool, with D relaxing beside me, and a big juicy, fruity drink in my paws. Perhaps I just need a change of scenery. Or perhaps I just need to shaddap and count my blessings.

And build myself a big-ass fruity drink!

Empanadas and a black bean/mango salsa are on the menu tonight, so that will go a long way to cheering me up. Thank heavens for simple pleasures.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

What the what?


Yesterday I spent a happy half hour in the sun. I looked for the first shy violets on the lawn, counted robins and admired the pretty pink nubs of rhubarb that were starting to poke their heads out of the dead leaves. I even raked some of the accumulated autumn detrius off the daffodils so they could breathe a bit better. It smelled like spring. It felt like spring. I was convinced it WAS spring.

This morning I awoke to another sunny, albeit chillier, day and looked forward to my afternoon walk with Neko. I thought I might rake some muck off the tulips. Maybe I'd even do some more Tai Chi in the sunny corner of the south field.

Then I looked out my window at 1pm to find Someday farm engulfed in a complete snow squall. That's right - snowflakes swirling, north wind gusting, God laughing. There are actually a few millimetres of accumulation on the ground, for Pete's sake! Not to mention the Weather Network won't even admit we have any snow. Although they do tell me it "feels like -13." Yeesh.

I love snow but I have to admit, my thoughts have turned towards spring these past few days and I'd resigned myself to seeing the last of the white stuff. And hey, isn't March supposed to go out like a lamb, since it lambasted us like a lion the first week?


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Lucky Irish Stew

Happy St. Pat's to ye!

I toured the entire southern coast of Ireland when I was 23; my English friend Wendy and I drove her powder blue VW bug over on the ferry. We started in Dublin, went southwest all the way to Galway and then drove straight back to Dublin again. (Interesting fact: the pizza in Dublin was better than the pizza I had in Florence, Italy)

Ireland was a country that had fascinated me ever since I did a paper on James Connolly and the Easter uprising in high school, and it seemed fitting to get away and clear my head after my mother died. She loved to travel and knew I had been planning the trip before she'd gotten really sick; I remember she encouraged me to go "no matter what." So I did, and Ireland was everything I wanted it to be: friendly, green and beautiful, with ruined castles around every hairpin corner and live music in every pub.

My favourite places were Doolin (where I learned to smoke Marlborough Lights and flirt with backpackers). Little more than a crossroads with three pubs, it's famous for its ability to attract musicians and they play until the wee hours every night. I also loved Dingle, which took my breath away with its coastal scenery.

Another thing I remember was seeing little Catholic shrines along the road at various intervals - statues of Mary smothered in flowers seemed to nod at us as Wendy drove her beloved beetle at top speed around the winding roads. (Insert a sigh here as I recall these pleasant times...)

Okay! Enough of McMemory Lane. Whether you've got Irish blood in your veins (I don't) or just like to celebrate St. Patrick's day with green beer, here's a yummy Irish stew recipe to honour the day. Green food colouring not included.

Lucky Guinness Stew
- package stewing beef
- 3/4 cup flour, spiced with salt, pepper and whatever dry spices you prefer
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups beef or veggie broth
- 1 cup Guinness or other dark beer (Toast your health and drink the rest!)
- 1 bay leaf

1) Toss beef with spiced flour to coat.
2) In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, lightly brown the beef in the olive oil.
3) Add the onion & celery; cook 3 minutes.
4) Add the carrots, garlic, broth, beer and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
5) Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until beef is tender.

You can serve this over broad egg noodles but I like to soak it up with a heel of crusty dark bread. You may be wondering why there are no potatoes in this so-called Irish stew: it's because I really don't like potatoes! (I told you, I'm not Irish)

Friday, 13 March 2009

A really great day

Yesterday was just a great day. In fact, I'd say that it was the best day I've had in awhile. And it was made up of simple things that made me happy.

Like the 6 robins I saw on someone's lawn while travelling down the 16th sideroad. Or the sunny walk I took with Neko at noon. Or the fact that the Globe and Mail wants to publish a piece I wrote in their Facts & Arguments page. Not to mention the clean bill of health I received from my OBGYN at my appointment yesterday (it made the 1.5 hour wait worthwhile!). And finally, a lovely sushi dinner out with D capped an already stellar day.

I'm counting my blessings and lolling around in a state of thankfulness today. (0:

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A new taste!

Shopping for groceries in the Kink is often a frustrating and expensive experience. I'm not exactly sure why, but groceries seem to cost at least a third more here than anywhere else. Plus the selection of produce isn't always thrilling.

I'm a big believer in shopping local, but our grocery bills are getting ridiculous. It's easy to supplement our diets with locally grown produce in the spring and summer, but in the winter we're at the mercy of the local stores. When I decided to make 20 pints of salsa last weekend, I knew a trip to Food Basics (a nearby bargain grocery store) was in order if I didn't want to bankrupt myself buying ingredients.

So off to Goderich - a 40 minute drive in a snow squall! - I went with D, who was acting as my "bag boy" since I'm not supposed to carry heavy stuff these days. As a general rule, I adore grocery shopping. I enjoy planning the weekly menu, dreamily browsing the aisles and finding my favourites on sale. Shopping with D can put a damper on my leisurely style of grocery trolling though; he prefers the seek and destroy method and likes to buy stuff in bulk (e.g. a case of tuna, a flat of oranges, boxes of cereal that would feed a small country, etc.). I knew I had about 30-40 minutes of leisurely shopping before he started to get twitchy, so I was focused. Canned tomatoes - ON SALE! - check. Jalapenos - check. Green peppers - check.

I was turning to put a few sweet onions in the cart when I saw it. A weird looking round thing wrapped in what looked like fishing net was perched on top of the canned tomatoes in my cart. It was bigger than a grapefruit and smaller than a watermelon; I had no idea how it got there or what the heck it was. Then I saw D walking away from the cart as fast as he could go. I sighed.

On the rare occasions we shop together, D likes to tuck things into our cart that I wouldn't normally buy. This time, it was a pomelo, a fruit from China that neither of us had ever heard of before. I rolled my eyes, especially at the price ($5!) but hey, he was nice enough to drag all my bags and boxes to the car for me, so I let the pomelo stay.

We tried it that night and we both loved it! It's kind of like a grapefruit, but not as bitter nor as juicy. It has a puzzlingly dry texture for a citrus fruit, with the advantage that it doesn't drip down your chin or get your hands sticky. We left it cracked open in the fridge for several days, and it still retained its freshness. The only thing that was a bit unsettling was the startling resemblance it bore to a Georgia O'Keefe flower or Judy Chicago's Dinner Party art when you split it open. Hmm.

Well, anyways, it goes to show me that D is sometimes the adventurous one in this relationship. I think we're going to try to insert some more exotic fruit into our shopping routines; now if we can just talk the Kink store owners into ordering some...

Monday, 9 March 2009

5 things I learned the hard way

1) When buying certain edibles, don't skimp. Don't be tempted by generic brands that look the same or by no-name prices. Your taste buds and stomach will thank you. My list includes pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, ice cream, maple syrup, Coke and champagne. It's better to spend a little bit extra and actually see the bottom of the mayonnaise bottle after a few months instead of throwing out an almost-full jar. It also prevents long lectures from disgruntled husbands ("You didn't buy HEINZ ketchup? Kimmy, there ain't no other kindz!"). Plus, life is too short to drink crappy champagne or fake Coke.

2) Buy good sheets, no lower than 300 threadcount, preferably Egyptian or organic cotton. Trust me on this one: once you have experienced the soft, gentle embrace of good sheets, you will never again suffer your body to sleep on scratchy polyester disasters from Zellers. Even D, who was a die-hard flannel sheet aficionado, has become a convert to my silk/cotton blends.

3) Some dogs just want to chase cats. No matter how much time you spend trying to teach them that cats are not their personal wind-up toys, or encourage a feline/canine dialogue, certain dogs are hard-wired to chase small furry things. No amount of patient instruction or angry yelling will help. It's easier to accept this phenomenon and strategically prevent said dogs from having kitty contact.

4) Men think farting is funny. This does not change with age, maturity or marital status. No amount of dirty looks or talks about respect or how when you were dating they never passed gas in front of you will ever change this. *sigh*

5) Some people are just better than you are at doing stuff. Writing, baking, scrabble, witticisms, decorating - there's always someone who can do it better than you can. And that's okay. Cause it probably means you can do something better than someone else out there too!

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Perils of Pregnancy - Part III

The final segment...

7) "Wow, you're so Tiny!/Huge!/Tired looking!/Gorgeous!"
It's hard to know what to believe when so many people tell you so many different things about yourself while you're waddling past their desk or grocery aisle. Some days I feel radiant, with an E.T.-like glow emanating from my heart region. I'm sure my belly is just the right size, that the weight I'm gaining is perfectly normal and that my hair is definitely curlier than it used to be. Other days I feel like Shamu, dragging my bloated self wherever it has to go, wrinkly, bloaty, saggy bits and all.

I never know quite what to believe when people tell me I'm something or other; I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It helps that my radiant days outweigh my Shamu days so I try not to care what other people say. Except D, who always tells me I'm beautiful and means it. Even when he's informing me in awed tones that my bottom is starting to resemble Beyonce's.

8) The Name Game
Names are VERY IMPORTANT. So we are NOT calling this child "Carmen Paulina" after D's two brothers. Nor are we calling it "George W. Lowry" as D recently suggested. (He loves to aggravate my lefty proclivities.) But what DO we call Bumbo once s/he arrives? I have a list of names but none of them seem quite...right. D has some suggestions too, but again...nothing feels quite right. Perhaps we'll leave Bumbo nameless until we figure out a moniker that actually suits the child. THAT oughta rile the relatives.

9) The Stupids
I used to call this phenomena "baby brain," but The Stupids is what my colleague's husband calls it, and it's more brutally honest. Someone else told me it's called "momnesia," which sounds more clinically acceptable.

Again, I blame this one on the aforesaid hormones doing their crazy dance through my body. It is downright embarrassing to be mid-sentence in a conference call and forget what you were saying. Literally. Eg:

Disembodied conference call voice: "So Kimberlee, how will your department manage this change?"
Me: "Well, I'll ensure our documentation is updated today, and I'll post a reminder in our....um....our....I'll be sure to..." UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE "Right, I'll make sure the department's, um...ready."

It's times like these I thank all my stars that I am not an air traffic controller or brain surgeon.

Also popular: walking all the way upstairs, then standing in the bedroom trying like hell to remember why I'm there. Cursing, walking downstairs, then wondering if I'm supposed to be upstairs.