Friday, April 30, 2010


I decided to treat myself yesterday to celebrate completing all my certifications. I finally settled- after much debate over trying some port or maybe brandy, is it too early for sangria?- on a German riesling called Bree and was not disappointed. It was the ubiquitous helvetica font and modern minimalist bottle design that swayed my decision but it's the crisp well balanced libation inside that's going to keep me going back.

My darling mother bought me tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh organic basil on Tuesday, even though she likes none of these things, so I made bruschetta for dinner and half a baked apple for dessert.  For me it's the simplest things that are the most divine.

I went out to my aunt's farm for the evening and finished my wine in good company. I was sent to bed in the wee hours of the morning with my new favourite word, "ungotten" indelibly altering the landscape of my vocabulary. (Un)fortunately the spare bedroom is also a storage room for books. I tried, I really did, but I couldn't resist helping myself to a particular Madmen era title.

I got home this morning in just enough time to sweat out my hangover before I had to pick up my grandmother and drive her to the city for a doctor's appointment. In the waiting room I perused my purloined copy of  "Emily Post's Pocket Book of Etiquette":

"Touring castles in Spain Every day will be far more enjoyable if you fortify yourself with a good meal and a comfortable night's sleep. .... Every traveler body will increase his enjoyment of his trip life if he attempts to make friends and exchange ideas with the people of the country he is visiting he meets. ... Sensitive perception of the feelings of others is something few possess instinctively. therefore, we must train ourselves to see the point of view of the people of each county we visit we meet. ... Our travel attitude also determines the amount of enjoyment we get from our trip days. Which one enjoys his travels time more - the man with an open mind, eager to see the best in each country moment and forget the inconveniences or the man who finds it too hot in Spain, broods all day because he had no hot water for shaving, or can't find a hamburger stand to buy his favourite lunch? Do not voice your disappointments in public; rather attempt to dwell on parts of your stay life that you do enjoy. Don't hesitate to show your appreciation and enthusiasm for the country you are in life you've been given." (excerpts from Part Four: Advice for Travelers pg 85, 103-104 edited additions mine.)

Page 91 admonishes "An inexplicable urge to pilfer small or large objects seems to overcome many otherwise decent, honest citizens when they are guests [in a hotel]. I suggest that any time you are tempted to take home such a souvenir, you say to yourself, "That ashtray book or bath towel is the property of the hotel and if I take it home with me I am no better than a common thief."

Fine, Emily, I am duly chastised and will return the book.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gone Ferral

I've been feeling quite awful these last few days but I still went up to the lake with my parents this weekend.

I took the kayak out on Sunday morning. It felt really good to finally dip my paddle in the water and be in my kayak again. As I glided into Creek the First, two brilliantly coloured loons reared up and took flight to warn the rest of the marsh that human season had returned. When I reached the beaver dam there was one Canada goose waddling about all alone. What happened to the rest of his crew? Was he lost, a loner, or purposely left behind?

I sat for a while listening to the birds and frogs singing- amazing so early in the year-and started singing along myself. I made it to the last verse of Joni Mitchell's "Case of You" before I took my eyes off the tree line -always scanning for my fickle friend Fraser crane- and was startled to see three tiny turtle heads poking out of the water alongside my kayak. The moment I spotted them they simultaneously disappeared underwater but I was tickled to be a curiosity in their world. I also spotted two beaver before the wind picked up and things quickly got to chilly to be endured.

On the way home we spotted a big, Big BIG black bear ambling about in a field. He looked mean and scary but I bet, secretly, he likes watching a good chick flick now and then.

Plautdietsch Word of the Day: fe'kjiele = beat up

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Devil I Know

I gained seven pounds this year. I didn't actually know the number of pounds until I got home to my parents place and weighed myself; I just knew my clothes were getting tight. I attributed it to quitting smoking in January and told myself I would focus on losing it once I left the cubicle farm. I weighed myself two weeks ago and thought, "Well, seven pounds isn't as bad as it could be," then helped myself to another serving of strawberries (...with cream cheese icing). I have, in the intervening fourteen days, gained another 3 pounds for a grand total of 10 fatastic pounds. I would not let this bother me except that if I gain one more pound I will have to buy new clothes. I hate shopping and I have no income so I've decided it's time to get serious about this.

I have been torturing myself every morning (though I'm quite pleased to report that if heavy breathing is any indicator I am possibly in better shape than super hot 0% body fat girl), tossing in a half hour bike ride after studying, plus a walk every evening in hopes of being able to breathe in my jeans again. I even did yoga today.

Yesterday I rode my bike out on the mile roads. This used to be the "country" but it's now being developed into "Estates" that back onto the golf course. Unfortunately for me I was utterly agog at the sight of these monolithic bastions of Western excess when a Godzilla sized dust devil (we're in desperate need of rain) swirled off a remaining acre and enveloped me in its gritty embrace. I'm still picking gravel out of my teeth.

I biked in the opposite direction today, headlong into the prairie wind which was deceptively still until I started pedaling. I biked out past the water tower, past the Sommerfelder church to where the pavement ends. There were two dilapidated houses, yards filled with jalopies and junkyard treasures surrounded by suburban "Qualico" style homes with perfectly coiffed lawns and strategically placed wooden wagon wheels. Which means, I suppose, even rural cities are vulnerable to gentrification. Still, I couldn't help but wonder what horrors and monstrosities will be erected in the next twenty years that will cause some girl returning home in 2030 to pine for the good old days in 2010. On the up side there's still no skyscrapers blocking out the prairie skyline.

Plautdietsch Word of the Day: offe shamt (pronunciation= uff ye shamet) = shameless

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Noch Ab Zwei Bein

I wrote my exam today and I am now officially certified to teach business English.

Plautdietsch Phrase of the Day: Wo jedet noch heute? Dot jedet noch ab zwei bein = How's it going today? It goes, still on two legs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Four Round Corners

I thought it would be lovely to eat my breakfast outside, in the sun, on the patio this morning. Fortunately I also thought it would be nice to read a book while I ate because I also locked myself out of the house. Barefoot. In my PJ's. So I spent the morning reading, waiting for my mother to come home for lunch. When she finally arrived my mother chided me for not going to the neighbour's to use the phone. When I pointed out that I was dressed and smelled like a hobo she insisted this was no excuse not to rush over and ask for help.

Due to the same faulty doorknob system (who invented push button locks?) this is not the first time I have locked myself out of a house in my PJ's. Once while I was dog sitting, and not having a cell phone, I wandered the neighbourhood in a thunderstorm in search of a payphone. I eventually had to resort to calling my ex who showed up with his new, perfect, uberb*tch (that's what she was called in our circles-though not until the moment of this story, by me - until this particular moment in time, I tried to like her, I even defended her dammit) girlfriend. Giving me, in my muddy wet PJ's the once over she sneered, "What have we here?" At  precisely this moment I turned around to see the great big albino boxer I was supposed to be dogsitting through the patio doors, squat and take a gigantic crap. Yes, I thought, that sums up what we have here quite nicely.

So all things considered this morning's incident was really inconsequential though it did make me late for the yard work I promised to do for my grandmother this afternoon.

This evening we met my Aunt and Uncle at the local pub for trivia night. Aside from being great fun, this was a fantastical phenomenon I never thought I'd experience in my lifetime. When I was growing up the town was dry and the bar was located 1 mile outside of town limits. A couple of years ago the town voted to allow liquor sales in town limits so you can now have a glass of wine with your meal like civilized people might, though from what I can determine the meal with your glass of wine is mandatory so it's still more restaurant than a pub. You may however have to contend with a zealot or two pacing outside the establishment spewing condemnation or prayers for your sinning soul but think of it as ambiance.

Plautdietsch Word of the Day: geschehet (pronounced ye-shayat) = behave

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back to Back

I finally made it to the chiropractor today. She joked about needing a jackhammer to fix all the tension in it but she really did an amazing job of loosening it and putting things back where they belong. I then proceeded to my Aunt's in the country to work in her garden and undid most of my chiro's hard work.

It was worth it though. Just the smell of the earth brought my stress levels down ten points and I was giddy watching all the mini universes of life coming to the soil surface; shiny fat nematodes, an entire civilization of ants and a glistening giant ruby red beetle.

In the late afternoon we sat on the porch and I may or may not have had one glass of wine too many and had to be driven home. Somehow I managed to even get paid for this.

Ma had a fantastic pot of pasta sauce cooking away when I got home and, when we went for our walk, there were two guys handing out brochures for their church called "The Rock". I was greatly amused and even briefly considered going when I saw services start at 2:30 pm. Is it bad that my desire to sleep interferes with the eternal salvation of my soul (or at least the broadening of my horizons) or is that just the way g*d made me?  Either way it looks like Ma and I will be spending Sunday at the lake so the start time is moot.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Bro

When I was a kid I thought the only reason my brother was in my life was to torture me. Now I know better. He's there so I have someone in my life who can remember me when, someone to show me how to fix my bike, keep me in my place ... and torture me.

Not really. He's one of my favourite people in the world and today's his birthday so we tossed together a party for him yesterday that included (besides good company and wine, you know, the usual suspects) steaks and banana cake and sparklers. It was one of my favourite birthday parties ever and it wasn't even mine.

Almost as enjoyable was lolling about in the sunshine with the robins and chickadees all morning, burning off the after party haze.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reliably Unreliable

To anyone who posted a comment this week,  I did approve them, Blogger is apparently working on fixing the issues with comments. They've been working on this since March 29th however, so it's obviously not a priority issue. I, on the other do think your comments are a priority, so I wanted you to know I appreciate them.

Things I Heart This Week

A movie about fonts (and people wonder, out loud sometimes, why I'm single), Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard - To Be Objectified, Zachary German, and this homage to my all time favourite painter Dali.

Plautdietsch Word of the Day: abschnied = cut off (as in "Don't do that or your mother will cut off your head")

Friday, April 16, 2010

6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

I tried to take my grandmother to see "Alice in Wonderland" 3D on Tuesday. After scouring the parking lot for the closest possible parking spot, buying the tickets and redeeming my voucher for free popcorn we discovered we'd been duped into seeing the regular version. Much hullaballoo ensued as I tried to edit undo these transactions with the net result of a $0.77 deficit to my bank account and an agreement to try again at a different theater today as I had dinner plans Tuesday and couldn't stay in the city until the next showing.

So this morning I woke up early and Grandma and I hit the backroad highways back to the city for the second time this week. She told me stories from her childhood, and we swapped road trip tales and she showed me where my father works. After a quick stop for her doctor's appointment we had a half hour to kill so we bought fruit smoothies and gave ourselves freezy headaches.

Grandma had told me she hadn't been to a movie in a theater since before she was married. Last time she went it was $0.75 each to get in. That's right, less than the amount I lost on the extra butter for my free popcorn on Tuesday.

I could hear her laughing a lot throughout the movie and when it was over she said, "Well, that's not the Alice in Wonderland I remember," which made me laugh. I asked her if she enjoyed it and was so happy myself when she grinned from ear to ear and said with shiny eyes, "Oh yes, very much." I grinned right back.

On the way home we lamented the loss of drive-ins and the general ineptitude of my generation. I know I ought to have defended us but frankly I had to agree we are, on the whole, indefensibly useless creatures. I do hope to do better with that myself, starting with learning how to patch my bike tire tube this weekend.

Daily Dose of Plautdietsch: schrickt = scream

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I think dinner was a success. I realized halfway through the afternoon and much too late, that I had been far too ambitious with the menu but Company was kind and seemed to enjoy the fruits of my efforts. While the artichoke was an epic fail, and my garam masala sweet potatoes were met with mixed reviews (though I enjoyed them and was quite tickled at finally learning how to make ghee) I can recommend the cardamom chicken  and my cobbled together squash chutney:

Squash and Apricot Chutney

2 lb squash (butternut, hubbard or acorn)
1 peach
½ cup oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup dried apricots, julienned
1 2”(5cm) piece of gingerroot, julienned
1 red pepper
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
1 tsp dried chile flakes

1) Bake the squash until just tender (approx 20 mins)

2) Cut the squash and fruit into small pieces and put in a bowl.

3) Peel and mince the pepper. You want tiny pieces so the taste will compliment the rest of the ingredients, not overpower them.

4) Reserve 1 cup of the squash & apricots. Combine the remaining ingredients in a pot.

5) Cook the chutney on medium heat for about 50 minutes. Stir often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6) Put the reserved cup of squash and apricots in the mixture. Add the minced onions and cook for 10 minutes more. This give your chutney a chunky texture and appearance.

7) Remove the pan from the heat. The chutney will continue to thicken slightly as it cools down. You can eat your chutney now or store in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.

I know for certain I enjoyed the conversation, company and walk despite being exhausted which makes it a success in my book.

Kitchen Tip of the Day: You can use coffee filters instead of cheese cloth (thanks Mom!)

Plautdietsch Phrase of the Day: schmurtzpuddel = fat puddles (it's actually some type of food though I can't recall what only the direct translation because it made me giggle)

Dinner Guest

I am the sort of dinner guest who will become enamoured with your appliances if they are circa Madmen. This sleek baby whipped me into a picture taking frenzy. I think my Uncle lined up the wine glass and bottle to provide an alibi for my insanity, but in truth, I would have snapped pictures even in a fit of sobriety. This mixer is not only beautifully designed but quiet.

Dinner was delicious, dessert divine and the spiked (amaretto and grand marnier) blueberry tea was a delightful end to a brilliant evening of good company and conversation.

Tonight I'm hosting a dinner guest who just arrived so I must be off.

Low German Phrase of the Day:

  jebrodne eadschocke -  fried potatoes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Personal Ads

Fun, creative and well traveled Palmolive girl seeks cute, unique and clever boy to subvert fate and make up for lost linear time just for hearts and giggles.

All I Need Is One Stone

Two people who bring out my tourettes in one shot. How very convenient this whole nuclear summit is when there's a scandal afoot. Is that what it would take to get him to attend an environmental summit in person? And I'm still trying to wrap my head around the part where he attended this concert with his neighbourhood pals. It's not like Sussex is home to Ottawa's taxi drivers and school teachers. Who are they trying to fool? Nickelback fans? ... Yeah, okay that might work.

via my Bro

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poverty Budget Tips

I discovered last night that you can get free drinks at the bar without having to crawl out the bathroom window at the end of the night to avoid going home with some random guy who's been paying for them. My brother played his best show ever-solo and oh so very Townes Van Zandt-so I didn't notice that the free drinks were virgins but I'm awfully glad this morning they were.

Lost Angels

Yesterday I finally sent off the piece I'd been working on and Mom and I celebrated with my very own creation, Zucchini Lasagna (recipe below) and a bottle of Lost Angel which is my new favourite wine. It's really intimidating cooking for Mom but I was pretty proud of this dinner.

Mom also took me to hear a piano quartet featuring the youngest daughter of my childhood voice teacher.
The last time I saw Maddy she was a toddler with a huge toothless grin. Now she's a married woman with her mother's musical talent and a beautiful well-dentafriced smile. I felt remarkably old. She played some Chopin, my favourite, and a delicate little piece at the end of the evening that I found enchanting.

 Watching her play though I was reminded of my best friend in high school who was also a pianist. She had the same haircut Sara had all those years ago and, from the back, it could have been her playing. I don't think of her often but last night, when I was reminded of her, for some reason I missed her intensely. Not her, per se, I know she's a different person now than she was then, as am I, but I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and wanted to be on one of our long walks talking about politics and religion and philosophy. In truth, I think she ruined me for future relationships with women, my expectations are impossibly high now, but how amazing to meet your kindred soul at all in this vast universe, even if you did only share a brief moment in time.

Zucchini Lasagna


1 Roma tomato
1 carrot
1/2 red onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb ground meat
2 T Italian seasoning (Clubhouse)
1/2 jar pizza sauce (Catelli Spicy Garlic)
2 zucchinis
1 small container Ricotta cheese
1 1/2 tsp sage
chili flakes to taste


1) Saute onions until soft. Add garlic. Add meat and brown.Grate carrot into meat. Add pizza sauce and Italian seasoning. Turn element down to low.

2) While sauce is simmering cut zucchini in half and then lengthwise into 1/4" slices. Drizzle with oil and grill for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

3) Mix sage, chili pepper flakes and ricotta cheese together. 

4) Place four zucchini slices on the bottom of the pan.

5) Layer meat sauce on top of zucchini slices.

6) Layer another four slices on top of the meat sauce

7) Layer on the ricotta cheese mixture and slices of roma tomatoes

8) Lay on the remaining zucchini slices and top with smoked gouda cheese

9)  Cover and bake in oven at 400 until cheese has melted approx. 10 mins.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Hometown

About a decade ago some fool set fire to the windmill here. This is the restoration. According to my father they finally caught the firebug a few weeks ago.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I was whining to my mother on our walk today that I didn't feel I was getting enough work done. I just spent three hours writing and I think the piece that's been evading me is finally complete.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

MIA: Words

I have moments, usually when it's late at night and I'm most tired, when I know that I am only pretending to be a writer. I am not creative enough to be a writer. I begin to wonder what alternate creative outlets I might pursue when the universe reminds me that I would never have the genius to utilize nipples this way. I cry a little and then I just accept that it's my destiny to attempt ingenius employment of adverbalizers forever anon in obscurity. Still, I wish I had thought of it first.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It's the first day of my new job: writer.

I got a lot done today.

I woke up early just as I had planned. I got in a half hour of kickboxing despite my crippled back, vacuumed both floors of the house and did a load of laundry all before breakfast. I was off to a great start.

After breakfast I completed the first of seven modules for one of my specialization certificates, another load of laundry and digitized even more of my life. Still right on track.

After lunch I was left with two options. I could write or, I could fix my bike tire. So naturally I borrowed my mother's John Deere cruiser-style three speed pedaller and headed downtown to the bike shop to buy patches. I felt very Mjiep ala Anne Frank as I cruised down the deserted daytime streets and tried to decide if the lack of traffic in the "Automobile City" was irony or paradox. The bike shop, it turns out, is closed on Mondays but the air smelled of earth and the sun warmed my skin so I wasn't the least upset.

Except that I had run out of excuses to procrastinate. The piece I'm working on is something of a disaster at the moment; I can't seem to stick with any angle I choose from one sit down to the next and today was no exception. I deleted more than I wrote and I was relieved when my mother came home from work and we set out for a walk.

In this city everyone, and I mean everyone, smiles and says hello when you pass them. This congeniality can actually be more tiring than the walking. We walked at least 3.5 km, were nearly mowed down by a trio of Baptist bikers (as identified by my mother, I don't know my Baptists from my Lutherans), and we ate a well-balanced sufficiently tasty dinner before I picked up the laptop again.

I wrote two sentences, deleted two paragraphs and then helped my mother set up the wireless network which I am now using to record the fact that today, day one of my first day at work as a writer, I have written, at the conclusion of this blog post, exactly -15 words.

Maybe I should have slept in.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

"Even as an infant," my mother likes to point out, "you were fiercely independent. Long before the age most babies should know how to do such things you were rolling your way from one end of a room to the other."

This independence made handing over my apartment keys particularly difficult and these last few days have not been any easier as I've had to rely on the men in my family, who are both reliably unreliable, for help. Aside from feeling frustrated and helpless, I have no stomach for familial politicking particularly when I can see clearly, albeit in hindsight, that it's all unnecessary if I'd only been able to let go of some especially cumbersome things.

Still, I'd say the move went relatively smoothly. I fell down the stairs the day before the move while I was carrying some drawers down to the dumpster. The drawers were wide and awkward and I was unable to see the stairs as I descended. At some point I decided I must be at the bottom and continued forward instead of down. I was suspended in mid air like some cartoon character-Mr. Magoo or Road Runner- as my legs flailed about in hopeless search of solid matter. I then made the curious decision to retract my landing gear by doing hamstring curls and landed squarely on both my kneecaps rather than my feet. I threw my back out in the process and spent moving day in a world of pain; bruised and swollen, there was no good answer for it really but to suck back the Advil and cowboy up princess.

It was raining when I woke up so I considered myself blessed when the skies began to clear about ten minutes before the movers arrived twenty minutes early to pick up my bed. At the end of the day, after handing the caretaker my keys, I hopped into the car to drive away for the last time. Turning the key in the ignition the radio came on and Billy Idol affirmed "It's a nice day to, start again".

I managed to fit in "Alice in Wonderland" with my brother last night. Oh, the infinite ways I adore this movie.  I watched the original version several times growing up-it was one of a very few children's stories with a female heroine who was an adventurer-but most of the philosophy of it was quite lost on me at the time. Burton's version though is visually beautiful and the adaptation very Tao. I am already scheming to see it again.

"You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are." -Alice