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

Monday, 22 February 2010

In praise of...the winter walk

'Twas a sunny, mild day in the Kink on Saturday, so hub and I got off our lazy bottoms and took Jady Lady for a sleigh ride in the woods. First, though, D had to teach her the fine art of downhill "lugeing": he popped her in the little sled Grandpa Ed gave her for Christmas and sent her for a spin down the gentle slope behind our house.

On her maiden run, baby Jade looked terrified: her lips were pulled tight in horror and her eyes bugged out, even though she wasn't going any faster than I could walk. But by her third voyage, she was giggling like a crazy girl. I'm sure she would have clapped her hands had she not been jammed into her baby bear snowsuit and unable to move.

Once D and his daughter had exhausted the thrill of the hill, we changed sleds (using Grandma Shirley's giant, heavy duty sled, complete with cover and wind-shield) and went off through the cedars on the snowmobile trail. The sky was that cerulean colour of blue it only gets on a clear winter day; the sun was melting into the lake. I could smell the tang of cedar branches as we brushed past them and the snow crunched delightfully beneath our feet. Jade was babbling happily to herself; D and I didn't need to talk, and just exchanged occasional smiles.

We stopped to visit D's cousin, and by the time we left, it was nightfall. Stars glowed in the sky; the moon's crescent was verging on a half wedge. I picked out Antares, the red star, and even discerned the double star in the handle of the big dipper, something that rarely happens with my less-than-sharp vision.

A winter walk is one of those things that makes you feel glad you're alive, and taking a winter walk at night just enhances the experience.

Monday, 15 February 2010

In praise of: Valentine's day

Last year I wrote a rather heated entry in defense of good ol' V-Day. But I don't feel the need to go all vitriolic on you V-day haters this year. I've mellowed. Okay, I'm just really tired, but still, I don't feel the urge to get on my V-day bandwagon again. I think it's because I've heard so many nice, simple stories from friends and family about how they've spent their 2010 Valentine's Day that my heart is satisfied. Some couples went to the pancake breakfast in Ripley (and so did we), some went skating at the outdoor rink at McGregor Point, some hung out and watched sappy movies. To me, it's all good.

D spent the weekend doing chores so his brother C could play in a hockey tourney (that was not the heartwarming part) and spend the weekend with his girlfriend (that was the heartwarming part). It meant late suppers for both of us and less help with Jady lady in the evenings, but I figured it was for a good cause. We still managed to spend time together in front of the fire, enjoy a really kick-arse lasagne and our traditional dessert of chocolate-covered strawberries. AND D bought me the most gorgeous bouqet of tulips, which are even now making the house feel like spring.

Instead of cards, this year we exchanged our favourite memories of each other, which was kinda fun. Jade and I made D a card; she mostly smeared the purple and pink hearts I drew and tried unsuccessfully to taste each marker, but the card turned out to be pretty cute. Jade received cards from her cousin and both sets of grandparents so I still got my mailbox thrills vicariously. Plus it was fun to dress her up in red and pink; D even got Jade her very own flower.

All in all, I just like Valentine's day and the cool stuff it represents. Here's hoping yours was rosy, fun and full of warm fuzzies.

Defeated by a pork chop

As long as I'm not exhausted, I adore cooking. But I'm the first to admit that my meat preparation skills aren't the greatest. Give me some veggies, tofu or noodles and I can whip you up a meal you'd go down on your knees to thank me for, but when it comes to the meaty stuff, well, it's sometimes better if we just let the dog eat it.

For example, last night I met my Waterloo with two humble pork chops. I was tired after a busy week of chasing Jady Lady, super-crawling baby, but I started off feeling fairly optimistic: the receipe was simple, had lots of good ratings online and called for only 5 ingredients. The evening ended with me forcibly swearing that I would never again buy pork chops, no matter how economical they were.

It doesn't seem to matter how I prepare the darned things - they always taste like cardboard. I've marinated, roasted, grilled and fried them. I've covered them in sauces and gravies. Once I even attempted to crockpot them but we all know my feelings about the cursed crockpot.

Same with roast beef. My Nana could cook a roast beef so tender and juicy you only needed a fork to eat it with; my Mom made awesome pot roasts. Me? I cook them so rare that only bears enjoy them, or else cook the hell out of them so they taste like boiled leather. My yorkshire puddings are always tasty, but that's a small consolation when you've promised your man a roast beef dinner and end up feeding him fried eggy dough instead.

Chicken seems to be the one meat I can cook without constantly wrecking it, although it's mainly because I throw it on the BBQ or poach it. And the irony? I really, really loathe chicken.

So if anyone out there has a no-fail scheme for cooking pork chops so they're not as dry as a popcorn fart, please - I beg you - tell me your secret! Otherwise my husband will be eating tofu for the rest of the month.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Minus 22????

Usually I can take just about anything winter throws at me: snowstorms that cancel all travel, from trips to the city to the weekly grocery shopping; high winds that pummel Someday farm and threaten to rip the screen door off its hinges; mountains of white stuff that jam the garage doors shut and make walking to get the mail akin to an Arctic adventure. I've always loved winter. But this year, the nose-numbing cold's been getting to me.

Take today, for instance. -15 with a wind chill of -22. I know it's not as bad as Winterpeg or one of those other Godforsaken provinces where a -20 day is the norm, even without a breeze. But for some reason, the cold this week has seeped into my almost-forty-year-old bones and stayed there. I don't even want to go onto the back porch to let the dog outside, because it means walking into the icy room and spending five minutes shoving poor Nekes out the door with my foot while the wind mercilessly blasts us both. Even putting on my boots on sends a pang of cold up my leg and directly into my spine, in no small part because the snow hasn't even had a chance to melt off them from the last time I wore them outside.

The cold never used to bother me; I dressed in layers, invested in good long-johns, a decent hat, excellent mitts and sucked it up. I'd sneer at the wimps who would rush into the grocery store or the bank, rubbing their chapped fingers together and exclaiming how AWFUL the cold was. I'd note with disdain that half the people who complained about the cold didn't wear hats, gloves or scarves; well, duh.

But now I'm becoming one of those whingy souls who can't s-s-s-top sh-sh-shivering. What is up with that? Do I need to add another layer of fat to my body? Drink more alcohol to stay warm? Invest in fleece underwear? Cause I can definitely take those measures. I'm just not convinced they're gonna keep the chills away. Brrrr.