The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The bad days are beginning to be more frequent in my senior years. On the other hand the good days that come along are very good, so I’ll keep plugging along hoping for more good than bad.

Starting off on what I thought was a good day, I decided to make pasta salad, which hubby and I haven’t had for quite some time. I only made a small batch for our supper and I was trotting along so well until the pasta had cooled enough to dress. That night we decided to finish off the last chicken legs in the freezer. We had been to Costco the previous day and stocked up on chicken thighs for a change. Not wanting a large meal we voted for the pasta salad as a nice side dish with the legs.

All was going well, as I said, until it came time to dress the salad. As I was stirring in the mayo, I also added the salt and pepper. Once done, I gave it a taste for seasoning and OMG my tongue felt like it had swallowed half the box of salt!! It was awful and I started to get upset. Not always thinking straight, I grabbed Nat to take a taste to confirm my suspicions. His face suddenly cringed, his eyes closed and his tongue was spitting out whatever it could. The following discussions:

“What were you thinking”?, he asked.

“No bloody idea. I took a pinch from the salt box and must of miscalculated”, was my reply.

“No kidding”, was his sarcastic retort.

I’m not starting over, so how do I fix it?”, I asked.

“The only answer is to boil some more macaroni, add it to your mix and see if it absorbs that extra salt”, Hubby’s response .

So away I went. It worked. We did, however, now have enough pasta salad to invite the neighbours over. In the end we decided to put away enough for lunch the next day and toss the rest. Ce la vie!!!! My fault and lesson learned, even though I won’t remember a thing.

As the week continued, and most days were just boring, I went for my hair appointment feeling somewhat optimistic and upbeat. I decided to get a perm this time, now that my hair has grown back from the Thrush scenario. The shampoo I bought for hair loss worked better than expected and I was pleased as I sat in my hairdresser’s chair. Even she had noticed my hair looked better and we proceeded with a discussion on what kind of perm I wanted. On a whim “Let’s go really curly”, was my smart ass reply. Without hesitation the process began.

This time there was some excitement at the salon regarding a possible abandoned car with Texas license plates. One of the customers went out to check the car and discovered it had also been left unlocked. Naturally, she opened the door, had a good look around at a small mess in the front seat and smelling what she felt was more than a dead animal lingering. She returned to the shop and the theories soon began. My hairdresser reported the customer’s finding to the owner of the Avondale Store who put a note on the car window that it will be towed if not removed by end of day. We all had a good laugh at the various scenarios being discussed and, trust me, they began to get a little weird only because they were Texas plates!! None of us have ever heard of anything good coming from the State of Texas, especially from watching TV.

With all things now settled, it was time to remove the small pink curlers and reveal the masterpiece. EGAD!!!! I was taken aback as I have never in my entire life had so many curls on top of my head. I looked like Mohammed Ali, with a mass of Afro curls only on a much smaller head!! I started to laugh as my hairdresser could see the huge disappointment in my eyes. She reassured me it could be fixed with a curling iron and smoothed out. But the whole idea of getting a perm was not having to use a curling iron. I wanted to finger and fluff my hair in the morning. Another smart ass idea of mine gone wrong. In the end my hairdresser fixed Mr. Ali’s curly top and I was at least able to face the public again.

For the last month, my mind has also been on the crappy eating habits I’ve returned to. Chocolate has been the bane of my existence. Eating more than I should. Buying more than I should and stashing whatever I can in the fridge. Whenever Nat is out of the house at his golf games (3 x a week) I’ll sit in front of our computer and stream my favourite British cooking or comedy shows while munching on as much chocolate as it takes to complete the show – each one usually an hour long. Seriously, I’m addicted and sick. I’m now anticipating really bad blood sugar levels at my next blood work which will probably confirm the high results I’m getting at home. Telling myself every morning to behave and lay off, I’m only good on the days that Nat is not out of the house. The true signs of a Chocoholic.

I finally came to terms once my blood work was done. After checking the results online today, my numbers weren’t good, but weren’t has high as I had anticipated. I’ve now disposed of any stashes in the fridge, started keeping record of my exercise, blood pressure and blood sugar results everyday to remind myself that if I don’t make better gains, I’m going to have two really pissed off Nephrologists. The discipline is extremely hard and it’s been getting me depressed at times. Hubby tries to support me as best he can but being an already disciplined person, it’s hard for him to connect with me. These are the times I miss living closer to my sisters. I know I can get through this, despite going it alone.

Back to normalcy, and in order to get out of the house to clear away the dust bunnies that had gathered on our shoulders, Nat and I headed to the Balls Falls Craft Show this Thanksgiving weekend. We had walked around the Marshville Heritage Festival the week before, which was a bit of a bust.

When we arrived at Balls Falls. we were surprised at the reorganization of the event. They had now extended the parking area to a larger lot, had 6-seater golf carts running back and forth every minute to pick up people who were unable to walk up and down the large hill that takes you down to the Artisans and Big Barn. The Artisans, too, had been re-organized. The large tent at one end was now split in two with new Artisan tents in between. All Artisans in the Big Barn were laid out in a more conducive manner, and the Food Artisans were located in another large tent set up behind the Big Barn. The only disappointment was the Food Tents and eating area, which seemed to have been downsized. It was probably just my mind playing tricks, but the seating area was moved behind all of the Food Vendors and the Band Stage was now abandoned with Artisans scattered around where picnic benches use to be. Really not conducive to enjoying lunch and watching the world go by.

As Nat and I walked around we really enjoyed a lot of the Vendors and their wares. Some of the Vendors seemed to have changed while other new ones had arrived. The one Artist I love was there and has expanded her village houses using recycled boards. They were gorgeous and it pained me to keep my credit card in my wallet. Damn!!! In the end I found a few more items I would loved to have bought, but I had to be good and save my pennies for our 25th Wedding Anniversary trip to Stratford for 4 days.

Continuing on the bad day vein, the Mail app on my iPad has decided to act up. Apparently I’m not alone in this, as I have a sister having the same problem. Mail will send or receive messages, but if you try to answer a received email, it won’t go. I get a message back regarding a problem with the setup on the Server or that the address is not recognized. Another one of those things where I’ll end up on the phone talking to someone at Cogeco to see what the problem is. I’m sure it’s something I’ve done wrong at this end – it usually always is!!

After visiting Balls Falls we returned home for a quiet afternoon. As it was such a perfect day, Nat went for a walk while I did a little research on cooking our little turkey breast for Monday. Wanting to save a lot of hassle and mini-arguments, I happened upon a recipe for the Slow CookerDespite not having all of the ingredients, I knew we could improvise as we have in the past and it would all work out.

With the arrival of Monday, we proceeded to get the Slow Cooker out and the veggies all prepped and ready. We cut up some potatoes, and onions, laid them in the base of the cooker and placed the turkey breast on top (after seasoning the breast). Switched on the cooker for 6 hours and we were done. Voila, our meal was complete except for the gravy and one other side which could be completed closer to eating time.

During the rest of the afternoon we could smell the turkey cooking away and as luck would have it, the turkey was done earlier than expected. It had reached its temperature so we decided to eat early. What the hell, it was only us!! With the drippings in the bottom of the slow cooker, Nat was able to make his gravy in the same pot, while I heated up another side dish. The turkey breast was sliced, the potatoes laid along side and the extra side was ready to go. We enjoyed a very quiet, yummy Thanksgiving dinner on our own. (Honestly, still not the same without a whole wack of family sitting around a big table and all talking above one another.) We retired to our recliners for the rest of the evening.

Regarding the Turkey Breast, I have to give cudos to Costco. While getting our semi-annual groceries this past month, we came across a small bin full of turkey breasts with bone in for only $9.99. A deal we could not resist, we grabbed a package and when we were unpacking it at home, we discovered it was the whole top of a turkey. Both sides were huge and we divided the pair and froze one for another time. Such a deal!!

With Thanksgiving over, we have Halloween to look forward to. Oh goody!! I’ve lost my zest for this event and would love to just turn out the lights. Nat, on the other hand, feels that since the neighbourhood has increased with Little Ones, that we should do something. This year, my love, it’s all yours.

Rainy Days and Delays

The weather these days isn’t exactly helping our cause. We’re both still waiting on our landscaper to show up to lay out the new front walkway. It’s so disheartening that the rain falls almost every other day and nothing can get done. Being an optimist, I’ll continue to keep my hopes up until the end of the month, which isn’t that far off!!

In order to fill the hours in the days, Nat and I have managed to keep somewhat busy. Now that he’s joined Queenston Golf Club he’s golfing more despite his feelings of guilt leaving me home alone. I don’t suppose he’ll ever get over it, and at least I know he’s still thinking about me. His guilt also works to my advantage – he doesn’t hesitate when I tell him I’m off to the shops!! Nat and I also drove out to the Balls Falls Heritage Festival which I love attending. It was an absolute perfect fall day and my latest favourite crafter was there. She’s from Quebec and her craft is making little village homes (individually or in groups) from scraps of wood and metal.  I now own three of her little homes, along with a tree, that hang in our kitchen. They help to add that “cottage kitchen” feel. After my purchase, we walked in and out all of the exhibit tents and barns before buying my usual two candy apples, having a bite to eat at the food tents and then wandering home the back roads. All in all a lovely day.

My Little French Village
My Little French Village

A week or so ago, Laura called and asked if we could pick up our granddaughter from college in Orillia. Her car was still needing attention and she thought it safer if we went and her ex-hubby would take Karly back in a weeks time. Of course we said yes, and when Friday arrived I packed a cooler bag full of cookies, drinks and sandwiches. As we had to leave by 3:00 pm to pick Karly up for 6:00, we decided to eat at one of the food and gas stations just north of Barrie. To save a few bucks, we decided a couple of sandwiches would do us and we’d share some french fries once we arrived at the food station. It all worked out pretty good and we were soon back on the road. It was a nice break, too, as the trip from Ridgeway to Orillia is one of the most tiresome. I had also packed a few things to keep the boredom at a minimum – magazine, iPad, needlepoint – but alas I’m not comfy with any of that while on the road. My mind keeps wandering and I’m always looking up to see where we are,  how Nat is doing and watching the world go by. Driving home in the dark is also another bug of mine as I get older, but Karly and her dog, Murphy, seemed to be doing okay – they both slept the entire way! Her dad met us at Tim Horton’s in Vineland to take Karly the rest of the way back to Fonthill, so we had a chance to see Shawn and Linda for a few minutes, something we don’t get to do much anymore since Laura and Shawn separated. Shawn was such a nice son-in-law and I like to think that we got along pretty good, so sometimes I miss the old family gatherings, but life goes on in its own illogical way and I have to make adjustments accordingly. At least he’s now in a happy relationship (or so it appearsand no nasty separation problems have occurred, so Nat and I count our blessings in that department.

After that very boring trip to Orillia, Nat and I decided to not even get in the van on Saturday. We had to go to Costco but told ourselves that Sunday would do. So, when Sunday arrived, we drove into St. Catharines with our little list of things to get – the baker (kaiser rolls), the golf shop (exchange a golf bag Nat won at the Golf Banquet) and Costco for fish and other items.

Speaking of the Golf Banquet, Nat and I didn’t really get too dressed up this year. As it was being held on Thanksgiving we were told there wouldn’t be as many attending as in other years. Once we arrived, it was quite apparent as the dinner tables laid out were far fewer than years before. We still had a great time, but never did get a dance in. The DJ wasn’t exactly playing our style of music and just the younger couples were boogying away. With fewer people, the whole ceremony was kept short, the gifts were given out fairly quickly (Nat won a nice golf bag) and the meal was served a little sooner. Everyone had a great time but most of the older members and their partners left early, including John and Ann (Nat’s brother-in-law and wife), Jim and Cathy (friends) and us. One of our two nights out a year had come to an end.

The Food, The Fairs, The Weather – Can’t Get Much Better!

Fall has officially arrived and I’m ecstatic! The time of year I look forward to. The weather turns down a few notches, the fall fairs and crafts shows begin and it’s time for great food and family get-togethers. Can’t get much better!

And so it was that I hosted Thanksgiving this year for my side of the family. Each year it’s getting harder and harder for any one of us girls to host a huge meal. We each try to take a turn for either Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes Easter, but we all have our excuses or reasons for not really making a large meal for 14 or so people. One sister has a growing family but tries to take her turn, one sister is struggling with fibromyalgia but tries to take her turn, one sister with two adult children takes her turn, one sister is unable as she lives in a small apartment, one sister isn’t really into cooking huge meals, and I’ve been taking my turn but am now starting to struggle as I’ve developed bursitis and hope it doesn’t flare up when it’s my turn to host. All things considered, each and every family get-together has been pretty damn good and lots of fun. We all try to bring a dish whenever someone else is hosting and we’ve yet to have a bad meal – with only once exception (see below!).

So it went that Nat and I hosted Thanksgiving yesterday (Sunday). We prepared as much as we could ahead of time – drove to Balls’ Falls for the Heritage & Craft Festival, bought groceries before the shops got too busy, ordered a marble cake, and brined the turkey on Friday –  picked up the cake, cooked the Turkey, made the Yorkshire Pudding mix, prepared the stuffing, made chocolate-covered Marshmallows, made the gravy and set the table on Saturday – sliced and warmed up the turkey and ham; baked the Yorkshire Puddings, mashed potatoes, cooked the vegetables, sliced the bread, heated the gravy and dressing and welcomed our guests by 4:00 pm. Whew!!

The Balls Falls Heritage & Craft Show was pretty much the same as other years, but the morning was perfect – a great Fall day and I really wanted to have a look around. Looking for a couple of specific items for the house I came across a craft woman from Quebec who made little village houses out of recycle materials – wood, tin and little doodads found around a home or workshop. They were perfect for the look I was going for in our kitchen and I picked up two of them. The other item I was looking for is starting to become an enigma – a set of yellow canisters. Having looked everywhere on earth and the internet, I’ve yet to find the ones I want so the hunt continues. So, after a walk-about for just over an hour, Nat and I climbed that bejesus hill up to the parking lot and headed home for lunch and to get on with the preparations for Thanksgiving

As things worked out, Nat and I were glad so much was done ahead of time. As tired as we were when we hit the hay, it was all worth it, as we had time to enjoy our guests throughout the evening without hiding in the kitchen trying to get things done. The only disappointment for me was the Yorkshire Pudding. Normally I bake them in the proper Yorkshire Pudding pans, but as the batch only makes 6, I decided to bake them in cupcake tins and they didn’t rise like the huge mushrooms I expected. When you broke them open they weren’t hollow to allow all that good gravy to ooze in. To me, they looked and tasted like a bland, flat, sunken muffin. So much for whimsy!! Nat had his disappointment too, the gravy wouldn’t thicken up and was a little too runny for our liking. No complaints from the family and I’m assuming their criticism was left for the car ride home. But that’s okay, I was just to glad to see everyone that nothing else mattered.

Bonnie made a valiant attempt and for her convenience I sat her close to the dining room hallway so she could make a break for it if she wanted to lay back in the recliner and rest her weary bones. Naturally she’s lost a lot of weight after her surgery, but she’s looking so much better from when I saw last in the hospital. As she’s still not up to grocery shopping and Gail’s been doing as much as she can, I gave Bonnie a care package of left-over turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. She’ll only need to warm them up and she’s good to go.

We missed Claudia, Darby and Tyler. As Tyler was home from Chicago for a few days (he’s in training for work at one of the new Target stores coming to Canada), we completely understood that Claudia wanted to spend some time alone with her family alone. It’s that time in her life where they’re flying the coup and who can blame her for making as many memories as she can.

Zach and Zoe, I’m afraid were really bored. They were missing their two comrades-in-arms – Darby and Tyler – but made the best of it with their Aunt Michele. I gave them the balance of the chocolate-covered Marshmallows to take home for a treat, along with a small goodie bag for their Dad, Daryl, who was home with a migraine.

Keeping in mind that we all love our oldest sister, Gail, there’s only been one dish that we all agree was a major disaster at one of her meals. We could tell she had worked so hard with everything but as luck would have it – and to this day we’re not quite sure what happened – but the mashed potatoes ran onto your plate like cauliflower soup. They looked pretty decent sitting in that huge serving dish, but once you tried to ladle some onto your plate it wasn’t pretty. Not paying particular attention at the time and as the meal was “family-style”, Daryl gave me a poke at the table and whispered as he passed me the potatoes “I wouldn’t if I were you” with a silly grin on his face and trying hard not to catch Gail’s attention. I’m sure Gail had to have noticed how her potatoes had turned out but saved as much grace as she could by mentioning “I think the potatoes may have been a little over-mashed”. So let’s all be honest, as we’ve all done it, on the car ride home the little snickers began to flow. To this day it’s a tradition that any one of us will offer to bring the mashed potatoes to one of Gail’s meals. Every family has a little “inside” joke, and I think this is ours’. Love you, Gail, and you really are a good cook – this was just one of your bad days!

This is the year I think we should all start thinking about eating out on special occasions. I truly believe we’ve all earned the rest, we’ve all had our turns and we’re all getting older by the year, along with those “little” medical problems creeping up. Plus it’s not fair that any of the younger sisters that are much healthier have that burden and expense forced upon them. Certainly getting closer to the time where we should at least be discussing the same.

After a great time and (I’m bragging here) a pretty good meal, Nat and I cleaned up what was the most important, put on our jammies and sat in front of the TV for the rest of the night. It goes without saying that Nat’s head was deep within his chest, snoozing, by 9:30 pm. I have to admit, I wasn’t close behind. My feet and hip were throbbing and I ended up hitting the hay earlier than usual. I was out like a light!

Monday morning arrived and after sleeping in by only 15 minutes (whoop!) I dragged myself out of bed, tried to work out the kinks by walking into the living room, kissed hubby good morning, took my pills and sat down in the recliner  hoping that what was left in the dining room would be cleaned up by the little fairies in the Disney Movies.  No such luck, but what the hell, the exercise would work out the rest of the kinks left-over from the day before. We decided not to do anything or go anywhere today, so we cleaned-up and removed the extra leaves from the dining table and promptly returned to our recliners where we worked on crosswords and a golf game on the iPad, and discussed how yesterday went now and again for the rest of the day. What a life, eh??

Tuesday we’ve decided to drive into Niagara Falls to get a birthday gift for Laura whose birthday is the end of the week, find a sparkly top for me for the Rangers’ Golf Banquet this Saturday and then decide to see what day we can have the kids over to celebrate Laura’s 48th. That’s a whole other dilemma that I won’t even begin to get into!!