Mar 18, 2019

Monoliteral Monday

monoliteral ~ comprising only one letter

I survived March Break! Woohoo! And kudos to adults everywhere who also survived.

My sister dropped my great-niece off on Tuesday, and I took her home on Saturday. You’ll have to ask her whether it was a good visit or not – she certainly wasn’t any trouble. She’s not messy and she hardly eats, unless she had a stash of food in her room (like I did when I went to the retreat). She lasted all the way to Tuesday evening before caving and asking for the wifi password. LOL

I felt kind of bad that we didn’t really get out to do anything, having to babysit every day kind of limits what we can do. Although we did go for a trip to the sugar bush with the family of one of the granddaughter's friends.

The sugar bush, for those not born and bred Canadian, is like a big tree farm, where the trees are all maple and at this time of year get tapped with a metal spigot so the sap can be collected and turned into maple syrup, taffy, and or maple candy. Yum!

Sandy Flats, the sugar bush we went to, is about 160 acres. We went on a hay ride through the property and saw all the trees with their taps in place, we went on a nature hike where we saw many animal tracks including, my granddaughter insisted, werewolf tracks, and we got to peek into the shed where the sap was turned into syrup.

Before we left we lunched on pancakes and sausages, with lots of syrup of course. We had a great time and I may have spent a little too much money on syrup and maple butter to bring home with me.

The processing was a little more modern than I remember from when I was a kid, but the rest was pretty much the same. A trip to the sugar bush was one of the typical school trips for elementary school and not only do I remember the trip, I remember being grossed out by one of my classmates who had a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich for lunch. :-)

The granddaughter starts kindergarten this fall – I wonder if she’ll get to go to the sugar bush on a school trip next spring . . .

Mar 11, 2019

Mutualism Monday

mutualism ~ belief in mutual dependence of society and the individual

It’s the March Break. For kids it’s a whole week of freedom from school. For parents it’s a chilling preview of what summer vacation is going to be like. LOL

But even if you don’t have kids you can’t help but be affected by March Break. There are hoards of them everywhere. Need to drive somewhere? Watch out for the swarms of children who’ve decided that yes, they really can ride their bikes in the melting snow. Want a quiet walk in the park? Not likely. Planning a trip to Costco and looking forward to the free samples? Go early, before the March Breakers descend on the store like a plague of locusts. There are kids everywhere

When I was a kid, I used to spend the March Break up in Owen Sound with my aunt and uncle. I honestly can’t remember being driven all the way there, but I’m pretty sure my parents drove me part way and then my aunt and uncle would meet us at a pre-determined place and I’d be handed off like a football.

When I was older, early teens, I would take the bus from here to Toronto and my uncle would meet me and we’d go to the Sportsman Show before continuing on to Owen Sound. I loved looking at the boats and watching the fly fishing demonstrations and the sporting dogs being put through their paces.

There was one particular March Break that stands out in my mind . . .

I was probably 13 or 14 years old. It was raining when I boarded the bus at home and I was dressed appropriately for the weather. I met my uncle in Toronto and we spent the next 5 hours at the Sportsman Show. Now the event took place in one of the big buildings where the Canadian National Exhibition is held, which means it was a closed in space with no windows to see what was going on outside.

What was going on was the biggest snow storm of the season. We missed the express bus we were supposed to take, and ended up on the one that stopped at every little village and town along the way. Which turned out to be a good thing because we heard later that the express bus had been involved in an accident.

By the time we got to Owen Sound, the snow was so heavy that the ploughs had given up trying to keep up with it and were concentrating on keeping just the main roads open. My uncle’s car at the bus station was literally buried under a hill of snow so we ended up hitch hiking to his house, catching a ride in a TV repair van.

After all of that, the rest of the visit was pretty anti-climatic although I do remember my aunt had turned on the electric blanket on my bed so it was all nice and warm. :-)

This March Break I have a niece coming from Hamilton to visit. She’s older than I was when I went visiting, so I’m pretty sure we won’t be doing the crafts my aunt always had waiting for me. But I think it’ll be a good visit all the same.

Mar 4, 2019

Maledicent Monday

maledicent ~ cursing; addicted to speaking evil

Well, I made it home again from my retreat, but it was a near thing. There was a tiny bit of snow on the drive up; day two it rained; day three there was extreme wind (with the chance of us losing power; and day four we had snow added to the wind. One of the major highways was closed both ways due to accidents, but fortunately it was not the route I’d planned on taking. However, driving conditions were abysmal on the route I did take and I only narrowly missed getting caught up in delays by two other accidents along the way.

Obviously I made it home, but it was not without a price. The sinus cold I’d been fighting off before the retreat got its hooks in my head and chest and turned into the mother of all colds/flus. This kind of sent all my determination and good intentions packing last week and other than popping cold pills and babysitting (granddaughter also had a major cold so we were quite the pair) I didn’t do much of anything.

Did you know the only difference between a cold and the flu is that the flu comes with a fever? All this years I thought the flu was a stomach virus, but apparently a stomach virus is just that, not the flu. Someone forgot to send me a memo when that changed. Just like I never got the memo that instead of coughing/sneezing into your hand you’re supposed to sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Just suddenly one day everyone was doing it that way and I’m like, “what are you doing?”

The retreat itself was a lot of fun and I got a lot of writing done, although mostly short stuff from the workshop prompts. There were 15 of us in a big old manor house that overlooked Lake Simcoe. It was kind of interesting watching the frozen lake fill up with ice fisherman during the day, and then the lights from the snow mobiles when night started to fall.

The house is owned and administered to by a group of nuns, which accounted for its well stocked library of religious tomes and the insanely narrow, hard beds we had to sleep on. Being a house, not a hotel, we had to provide our own food and we were divided into groups to make lunches and suppers. There were a handful of food sensitivities in the group, and one vegetarian, and only one meal that had meat – a lunch that consisted of soup and sandwich fixings. You should have seen how fast that meat disappeared!

It was a good group – from a young screen writer to a research doctor writing her memoir. There were a couple of others writing life-based stories, a couple writing non-fiction, a few writing fiction, and the rest just writing.

All in all, I’d do it again. Maybe not in winter though. And next time I definitely want a room of my own. :-)

Feb 18, 2019

Morigeration Monday

morigeration ~ deferential behaviour

If you live on the North American continent, then you probably have today off. While our friends to the south (the U.S.) are celebrating President’s Day, we Canadians are celebrating family day.

And here’s a bit of trivia for you: President’s Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1885, commemorating George Washington’s birthday (February 22). In 1971 it was moved to the third Monday in February – I guess to give everyone a long weekend.

Family day, however, is not a federal holiday and hasn’t been around nearly as long. It was first observed in Alberta in 1990, then Saskatchewan in 2007 and Ontario in 2008. Personally, I think we were just jealous that the U.S. got a long weekend in February and we didn’t.

I must have had a brain fart or something, because one of the things I did on the weekend was make a big pot of chili. Now this in itself might not seem like a big deal, but everyone knows chili tastes better the next day, which means it needed to be refrigerated overnight.

My fridge was already pretty full. I didn’t just have the regular stuff from my weekly grocery trip, but I also had the ingredients for a double batch of broccoli cheddar soup in there. I managed to get the chili pot in there, but just barely.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog, but at the end of the week I’m off to a writing retreat up on Lake Simcoe. It should be an interesting experience – no T.V., no WiFi, and we’re taking turns cooking the meals. I’m on the Sunday lunch team – we’re having soup and sandwiches, with ice cream for dessert.

I volunteered to bring my broccoli cheddar soup (hence the ingredients in the fridge) which I made up yesterday. I figure I’ll save time by making it ahead and freezing it for transport. All I’ll have to do when our turn comes up is heat it up and add the cheese. I even invested in an iceless cooler that plugs into the car to make sure it arrives safely.

The retreat runs from Friday through Monday, so that means there won’t be a post next Monday – I’ll be busy wrapping up at the retreat and driving home. And, like I said, there’s no WiFi so I’ll have no way of accessing the internet. Well, I’ve heard of people using their cell phones to create an access point, but that’s a little beyond my skill set.

I’m actually looking forward to being unplugged for the weekend – we’ll have to wait and see if it gives my writing a boost.

See you in a couple of weeks!

Feb 11, 2019

Microseismometer Monday

microseismometer ~ instrument for measuring small or distant earthquakes

Last Tuesday (February 5) was the changing of the Chinese year. We said goodbye to the Dog and hello to the Pig.

It’s funny, any time I think of pigs I think of my Aunt Florence – and I don’t mean that in a bad way either. She had a thing for pigs (not real ones) – we made pigs for Easter out of Styrofoam egg cartons, and she had a set of ceramic pigs for St. Patrick’s Day – but this wasn’t something we really took note of until her later years. I think she wanted it that way so she wouldn’t be inundated with pigs on gift giving occasions as kids like to do.

Once a kid knows you like something, that’s their fallback gift for every gift giving occasion. Which is nice for them because they’re never stuck for long for an idea, but not so nice for the recipient of yet another mug with a hummingbird or dog or boat on it. So I can kind of see why Aunt Florence kept her love of pigs to herself for so long – it saved her from receiving a giant stuffed pig for her birthday or Christmas (which I’m sure I would have done).

Anyway… I’ve always had a thing for the Zodiac – both the western and eastern ones. I’m pretty sure I did a series of posts on the Zodiac, but I started getting way too distracted looking for them so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

At any rate, for many years I thought I was born during the Year of the Pig, but that’s because I was following the western calendar, which goes from January 1 to December 31. However, the Chinese New Year begins on the second new moon following the winter solstice; that’s why it’s on a different day every year. And that’s also how I was actually born in the Year of the Dog.

Now this might not seem to be a big deal to you non-zodiac believers out there, but consider this: The Pig tends to be considerate, responsible, generous, and optimistic. They’re also lazy, short-tempered, clumsy, and enjoy sleeping and eating. The Dog is loyal, responsible, clever, and independent. But they also tend to be sensitive, conservative, stubborn, and emotional.

I have traits from both animals – and no, I’m not going to tell you which ones. Those that know me can figure it out for themselves. :-) But it makes me wonder … Those born on the cusp (the day before or after) of one of the western zodiac signs often share the traits of the two signs. Could someone born before the second new moon after the winter solstice but technically in the new year also be considered to be born on the cusp, thereby sharing traits from both years?

Makes sense to me.

Feb 4, 2019

Muliebrile Monday

muliebrile ~ womanly; feminine

There is a lot of stuff in my house. And I mean a LOT of stuff. This is what happens when you’re a pack rat with many different interests.

I keep trying to pare it down, but it’s not easy. This item is part of a collection, or that item has sentimental value. And when I do manage to get rid of some stuff, more magically appears to take its place.

Have you ever watched Tiny House Nation? Basically, it’s a show where people decide (for whatever reason) to downsize from their normal, large sized home to one that’s only a couple of square feet. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little. It’s more like a couple of hundred square feet, but it just seems like a lot smaller.

To qualify as a tiny home, it must be less than 500 square feet. Considering the average size of a home is between 1500 and 2500 square feet, that’s a big change. And that’s a lot of square footage of “stuff” to get rid of. I think the episode that really drove home the whole down-sizing concept was the one where the wife was presented with a medium sized plastic bin and told that whatever she could fit in there was her clothing allowance. Her shoes alone overflowed the bin.

I’m of two minds about the tiny houses.

On the one hand, they’re cute and compact and make amazing use of what space they have. They’re relatively low-cost to build (around 50,000 U.S.) so all you really need is the land to put them on.

On the other hand, I’ve seen cottages with more space. I could fill one up with my books alone – don’t even suggest I downsize my book collection. And while I could see using one as a writing shed, I couldn’t possibly imagine having to live in one and share the space with someone. Even the cats would go stir crazy after a while – I’d have to have a catio added on.

And that’s the thing. Many of these tiny homes make good use of outdoor space as well, which is fine if you live in a warmer climate, not so great if you live on, say, the west coast where it’s rainy.

And many of these homes are on wheels, which begs the question, why wouldn’t you just buy an RV instead?

Jan 28, 2019

Melliferous Monday

melliferous ~ producing or forming honey

So . . . Happy New Year, eh?

*Looks around sheepishly*

Once again I got caught up in the whole mythos that a new year means a new beginning and this year will be different. It’s not really. It’s the same old, same old, only further along in the calendar.

So . . . I guess since January is almost over I should start posting again, starting with a recap of how I rang in the new year.

We spent the holiday weekend here:

It was cold and wet and unless you’re into wax museums, fun houses, or casinos (which the hubby isn’t) there isn’t a whole lot to do there. If it had just been cold we would have done a lot more walking around, but it rained most of the time we were there.

The TV in our room got maybe 5 channels, and 3 of those were sports networks. And while I did bring a book with me, I finished it by the second day. That’s when I made a horrifying discovery. THERE ARE NO BOOKSTORES IN NIAGARA FALLS!

I asked at the front desk and they just stared at me blankly. I could almost see the wheels turning – “book? What is book?” Not only are there no book stores, there are no books, not even in the convenience stores. There were no books, there were no magazines, there weren’t even any newspapers. Do the people in Niagara Falls not read???

Mental note: Do not go on vacation anywhere without an e-reader.

New Year’s Eve we were going to have dinner at one of the restaurants on Clifton Hill (where all the action is) and made it as far as the hotel lobby. It was pouring rain so we quickly changed our plan to dining in the hotel’s restaurant.

To our surprise, despite the rain the nine o’clock fireworks went off. Later on the rain had let up so we ventured down to the bottom of the hill with about a million other people to watch the midnight fireworks (it started to rain again before we got there so we bought an umbrella from one of the souvenir shops).

The only other thing of note during my absence was the grandbaby’s birthday. My little sweetie is now four! Can you believe it?

Guess I’ll have to stop calling her “the grandbaby, eh?