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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Being Thankful and a recipe

Our Canadian Thanksgiving was early, and lovely, and our American neighbours are wrapped up in preparations for theirs, as I write. Seems Fall is the thankful season!

As we, husband J and I, slowly emerge from our self imposed quarantine ( intestinal bug), we've been looking for simple foods to eat. I'm aware of the trend to eat locally and the living simply, living abundantly world view also has much to recommend it.

Living in the Waterloo County area of Ontario, we are ideally placed to benefit from both these philosophies. We still have many family farms that produce a wide range of delicious foods, beginning with maple syrup in February, progressing through the seasons with fresh fruits and vegetables, and including eggs, meats, and home baking year round. Many of the farms are owned an operated by large, multigenerational Mennonite families, who still sell produce at the farm gate (no Sunday sales), and at farmers markets and independent local produce markets, located just outside city limits.

We're fortunate that the Mennonite"s belief in a simpler life, biblically based faith and strong commitment to service is still visible in our rapidly growing and increasingly technological and industrial communities. It heartens me to see the sheds for the horses and buggies at the farmers market, and at the Home Depot on the edge of town. A short drive into the country presents views of rural lives changed very little in over 100 years. My Grandfather would recognize scenes from his boyhood.

So, casting about for appealing, simple foods to sooth our healing bodies, I called my 84 yr old mother to ask how to poach eggs. My first attempt doesn't bear blogging about! We've been eating poached eggs, mashed potatoes, toast, tea and - baked apples. Simple - but surprisingly good. Eggs from a farmer with a personal relationship with the chickens, local potatoes and apples baked with a drizzle of maple syrup. That's my  "recipe".

Simple Baked Apples
-1 apple per person (I used big plump Spy apples from the market)
- maple syrup to taste (also from the market, or buy it on the roadside from a young girl, bonneted and warmly wrapped in black or navy blue, selling the syrup from the back of a black buggy, with a patient horse, and in sight of the sugar bush trees that produced it.)
Core and peel the apples, leaving them whole. Place apples in a glass baking dish and drizzle with maple syrup. Cover and microwave on high 10 minutes or until the apples are as soft as you like. Serve with the apple/maple juice pored over the warm apple.
Your kitchen will smell heavenly, and the warm, sweet apple is too. Comfort food!

I have much to be thankful for! I must try to remind myself of this as the "thankful season" passes into winter. I should be thankful year round!

Thankfully, Barb

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

So long and thanks for all the fish - Douglas Adams

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying - " Fish and company stink after three days."

Well, we've had some unwelcome company here the last week or so - an intestinal bug with severe abdominal pain - plus the usual intestinal bug trappings. My husband ended up in the hospital emergency room, the pain was so intense. We've been following the protocol suggested by the ER doc. - liquid diet followed by the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). It's getting a little old after days of it with no real improvement.

So, I,m telling our unwelcome guest it's time to go - so long and thanks for all the fish.

Hope this finds you well!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Being digitalized

Last night I finally did it!  I did.  I bought myself a digital camera!

Don 't get too excited - though I am - it's just a point and shoot.  But it's about 100% better than what I'm using now - no camera.  Yup.  30 or so years ago, we received a basic 35 mm camera as a wedding present, complete with f stops, an extra lens for distance shots, and a big canvas bag to tote it all around in.  In was a lovely gift from my sister-in-law and her future husband!  However, despite my high hopes, I had no real talent for it - and film was reasonable, but developing wasn't.  Trial and error just seemed too expensive a way to learn.

So most of my 1st child's baby pictures were taken with a polaroid camera.  Remember those?  Watch them develop in front of your eyes in just minutes!  That's pretty much all they had going for them.  Looking at those pictures now; small, fuzzy and discoloured, their great value lies in the memories they trigger.  I's first bedroom, and my first whole-room wallpapering job.  (One wall of accent wallpaper was popular.)  I can't believe we did three walls in a neon green, orange, yellow, and blue plaid on white, with an accent wall of matching green, orange, yellow, and blue balloons!  (Some memories are more enjoyable than others.)  Now that I think on it - now wonder he had trouble falling asleep!

So my photographic ambitions languished, and my Mom documented I's growth, E's birth, Christmases and birthdays with her camera.  My kids grew, and so did the amount of technology in our house.  Enter I & E's digital cameras and cellphones - even phones that take pictures!  I knew the technology existed, but ever try borrowing a teenager's camera ?

Last night, my husband, J & I went to Canadian Tire looking for batteries for our cordless phones.  It's a peculiarly helpless feeling when your phone rings, you answer: "Hello, Hello?"and the phone is dead and light- less in your hand!  The answering machine kicks in and someone tells you something urgent, but you don't have the battery life to tell them you'll come help.  GAH!  (You'd think the store that sold the phones would sell the batteries too?  So did I.  But after shopping around, I now know why they don't.  Yup.  If you knew that replacing the batteries in your 3 handsets was going to cost you $90 in a couple years, would you buy those phones?  'Course not.)  However at Canadian Tire, right beside the cordless phones - (batteries available at Walmart, in case you're curious), are digital cameras.  And - one of the things I love about Canadian Tire is their sales - a cute little point and shoot digital camera 40% off.  I've been thinking about joining the digital age for some time now - and it called to me...  $60 is pretty cheap to get your toes wet, I thought...  So I bought the little thing, and brought it home!  Only problem is, after the clerk opened the packaging to show me the camera, we left the printed info and the start up CD at the store!  So, I'm off to get the instructions now...

Maybe next year I'll enter the cellphone age...
Digitally Yours,

Photos by E - garden by me.  Watch for my photos coming up... hopefully... soon...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Being Wakefull

Harvest moon rising over Lorimer Lake

Fibro Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
Or not, but do not blame the sheep.
Had a hot bath with Epsom salts,
Warm milk, melatonin, read till tired,
But still my brain is over-fired!

Pets are fed, my spouse in bed.
No matter how I lay my head,
My neck hurts, no – my hip, no – both.
Now it’s my leg, it gives a kick…
Cramp in my foot, CRAMP IN MY FOOT!

Think I’ll get up and read some blogs,
Hope the light won’t wake the dogs.
How can I be so exhausted,
Yet my brain’s awake and spinning cogs,
While others all are sawing logs?

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep,
But failing that, my sense of humour,
For I believe I've heard it rumoured,
It’s far better to laugh than weep!
Barb McKay

Wakefully yours, Barb

Friday, 10 June 2011

Being present in the moment

O.K. so I'm trying to embrace Grace. Great. Rather a nebulous goal, don't you think? Well it sounded good to me when I wrote my first post...

One thing I learned from a meditation course recently is an exercise in living in the moment. The instructor told us: "In the normal course of your day, try to be aware of what your senses are telling you at any given moment. What do you hear, see, smell, taste, feel? Try not to judge what you sense, (mmm, peonies - I always think they smell like ivory soap, oooh, exhaust, yuk I'll hold my breath). Rather, just be present in the world around you."

It's really rather freeing, not having to process everything - and you may be surprised at what you notice that you may ordinarily have missed. One day this week I suddenly noticed 3" of new growth, neon green and softly swinging in the breeze, on the tip of nearly every branch of the tamarack tree I pass daily on my way to work! When did they grow to 3" in length - surely not overnight? How could I have missed this dramatic change?

On the other hand, just around the corner from the tamarack tree is a row of lilac bushes, destined one day to be a hedge, but planted just 2 years ago, they bloomed this spring for the first time. I stopped to smell them every time I passed them, and for a moment, just a moment, there was nothing else in my mind but their cool gentle fragrance. I had no thought in my mind about whether I was running late, the soreness in my neck, or my annoyance with myself for not tacking that decorative dish to the shelf so that it would not have fallen and broken last night... Just a moment filled only with the smell of lilacs, with peace, with... grace.

Be present, Barb
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Thursday, 9 June 2011

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tzu

My middle name is Grace, the name of a favorite aunt.

The word grace can mean ease and suppleness of movement, a virtue, being disposed to act with kindness, favour, a reprieve or a privilege, beauty and charm, a sense of propriety. (Merriam - Webster)

I have always considered my name some sort of cosmic joke, the ultimate irony, a poke in the eye, at the very least a sad misnomer. I spent my childhood with skinned knees, patched leotards (anybody remember those?), the last picked for teams (even waaay outfield, the softball would bounce off my chin, not land in my hand). I spent my adolescence wishing I was wallpaper (let me just be invisible). I still worry about what to say in social situations (even in Canada there is a limit to how long you can converse about the weather).

Now I'm 50 (ish), have a chronic illness, still sometimes feel as self assured as the acned girl in the polyester pantsuit, and both my babies have moved away from home (sigh). I think its time I embraced GRACE, and started BEING gracefully. So begins the journey...