Category Archives: family

A Girlfriend, Not a Girlfriend, Two Girl Friends, and a Movie to See With a Girl Friend…NEW POST!

Jim and Devin in a lightsaber duel, ca. 1999

Our “little boy” is growing up…at almost 18, Devin has his first girlfriend!  We met K briefly (long enough to say “Hi” but not long enough to sufficiently embarrass Dev) on Wednesday night…they were in deep conversation at the snack bar, after seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  The girls had “interrogated” her in an online chat…Jim and I limited ourselves to checking her out on Facebook.  Dev and K seem to have a lot in common, and she’s a very talented animé artist.  Hopefully, we’ll be allowed to have her over to the house some time soon…

Work’s been pretty busy lately, since there have been two or three cruise ships in Saint John every week (more vendors at the Market on cruise days).  My boss comes down every week for a meeting with me on Tuesday mornings.  This past week, my list for him was almost as long as my arm…he was there nearly an hour.  He let me know that our contract had been extended through the end of August (which means no summer vacation for me – Jim will take the girls himself).  After our meeting was over, I opened up my e-mail…hmmm…there was one from my boss.  When I finished reading it, I burst out laughing, and then called Jim to tell him about it: I had been the mistaken recipient of an e-mail meant for my boss’ girlfriend!  “I love you,” he said, and signed his name with two XX’s after it (I knew it wasn’t for me, because he talked about an upcoming date they had planned!).

“Um…I’m fond of you, too…perhaps you should forward this to the right person,” I responded. 

The reply came back quickly: “Ha ha…that hardly ever happens!” [hardly ever?].  We have another meeting tomorrow…”Awkward!” as my girls would say…

In April, I mentioned that Hope and her friend Gabrielle were going to sing the national anthem for the Canada Day ceremony at Market Square.  Hope arranged it herself…she’s the most assertive of all the kids (maybe it’s because she’s the youngest)!  The Marketing Coordinator of the mall had invited the girls to participate in the parade before the opening, and had said they would be singing at 11:30 am.  I had to work that day, but left at 11:15 to make sure I caught their song.  Jim and Anna were on their way, having watched the parade.  I didn’t see Jim and Anna at the mall.  The girls sang “Oh Canada,” finishing just before Jim and Anna came in from outside…luckily, Gabrielle’s mom had their video camera and was right up front!  Here’s a photo Anna took after the girls sang…Hope was having a little trouble looking enthused about our Cultural Services Officer’s speech:

Gabrielle and Hope after singing "Oh Canada"...Gabrielle really wasn't putting her head on our mayor's shoulder...photo by Anna

Wednesday night, Jim was recruited to drive Devin into town for his movie date, and Anna and Brianna to Saint John Idol.   Hope and I decided to go along and go to a movie with Jim (a different one than Dev and K went to!).  After checking Rotten Tomatoes online, we opted for Bridesmaids.  It had one of our favourite actors, Chris O’Dowd, in it (he’s hilarious as Roy on The IT Crowd).  Perhaps I should have checked the rating before agreeing to take Hope along…I spent the first five minutes of the movie with my hand over her eyes!  The movie was great, even though it was quite raunchy…a lot of fun to go see with your girl friends (Jim enjoyed it too, though!).  Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly) was laugh-out-loud funny as Megan…I’m not a fan of her other show (I find it mean-spirited).  Her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, is also in the movie (don’t leave until the credits are over, or you’ll miss a bonus scene!).

Chris O'Dowd as "Officer Rhodes" in Bridesmaids...photo by Universal Pictures...

Last week, I promised you some dragonfly photos that Anna took…here they are (my friend Jeanne tells me they’re actually “damselflies”…see her comment below – thanks, Jeanne):

Damselfly...photo by Anna...

Another damselfly closeup...photo by Anna...

This weekend, I sat staring at five Hotmail pages of unread blog posts (about 150 e-mails)…I was approximately 10 days behind on my reading, and it would only get worse.  So, I deleted them, resolving to go through my blogroll on my days off, and read the latest post by everyone on my list.  Hopefully, this will get be somewhat back in the loop, and eliminate some of the guilt!  I am sorry that I have probably missed some pretty great posts!  I’ll try to do a better job of keeping up…

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Filed under blogging, family, nature, photos

Of Gardening, Greens, Greenery and Goldbricking…NEW POST!

Well, here I am again: “live” so to speak, and thankfully still “alive” after a rather stressful week.  Here’s what’s been happening in Hammond River:

After virtually ignoring my garden all week, I was surprised to find that the weeds were trying to take over (funny how that happens!).  I spent much of Saturday evening and Sunday pulling out the invaders and rediscovering the plants underneath (Dad helped with the hoeing on Sunday too, as well as installing poles for the climbing beans, and strings for the peas).

This year, I tried to plant things in a different spot than they had been in last year, “rotating my crops” like a good farmer would.  The squash and beans are at the top of the garden, instead of in the middle.  The tomatoes were planted at the top last year – when we were weeding, we discovered all kinds of tomato plants that were growing from fruit that must have dropped on the ground last year (Dad calls the orphans “volunteers”)!  Some of them were bigger than the seedlings I’d grown in the house…how ironic is that?  Of course, I have no idea what varieties they are (I had about a dozen different ones last year), so it will be fun to see what I get!

This is some squash (notice the lacy leaves from the cucumber beetles!), with the "volunteer" tomato plants in the middle and the bottom right corner of it.

 

Two rows of peas, with newly-installed strings...

 

Pole Beans...

 

Bush beans with purslane at the foot of the plant...

Midweek, we were able to have our first salad from the garden, mixing seven or eight kinds of lettuces and greens, including kale and arugula (this is the first year I’ve tried those).

Salad greens: three kinds of lettuce, tat soi, arugula, kale, and other greens...

Yesterday, we had our first feed of cooked greens: spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, bull’s blood greens, and kale.  It’s a good thing there are only three of us who like them, because this big pot of raw greens fit into a small bowl once cooked:

Greens before cooking in a big pasta pot...

 

Small bowl of greens after cooking...

 
Here’s an update on how our back yard looks after the landscapers have been here:

Yard levelled, grass seed planted...uprooted peony bushes still in the foreground...

 

Looking straight (?!!) down our fence...didn't they do a great job putting it back up? NOT!

 

Other plants in the back yard are blooming:

Pink peonies that the deer didn't eat the buds off of...

 

A pretty bush beside the back deck...I don't know what kind it is...

 

Jim spent Saturday rebuilding two of our rotten front steps…here is his finished handiwork:

Jim fixed our front steps using a mix of old and new lumber...nice and solid now!

 

Here he is relaxing on our new porch swing with Jake after he was finished:

Jim and Jake take it easy...

 

Hope everybody has a great week…more archive posts to follow…will feature some of Anna’s dragonfly pictures next week!

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Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening, nature

Statistics, Sewage, Slippers, Sales and Shepherd’s Pie…NEW POST!

It’s Monday morning, and I have the day off from my job at the Saint John City Market…here’s a wrapup of my week:

1. Statistics.  I’ve worked very hard since I started my blog in March of 2010 to build up my readership to a pretty good level.  Since I started my new job on June 8th, I’ve been running about a week behind on my reading of other people’s blogs…consequently, my stats are in the toilet (if I knew how to do a sad face emoticon right now, I almost might do it!).  I thought that running archive posts would help fill in the gaps and keep people coming back, but I was wrong!  I really wish there were 48 hours in the day, so that I could keep up with my reading!

2. Sewage.  The new septic field saga continues: Our landlord came over to get the rent on Tuesday night, and was horrified to see the mess that the contractors had made of our back yard!  He could not believe that they had left the fence down on two sides (he also has first-hand experience with deer in his garden), or that they hadn’t started the landscaping yet.  He was leaving on vacation on Friday, but promised to send someone over to remedy the situation immediately.  When we got home on Thursday, someone had made a half-assed attempt to put my bent and broken fence (what was left of it) back up, but the yard was still open.  There was also a pile of topsoil in the side yard.

Later that evening, Anna was having a shower and the toilet in that bathroom started bubbling and overflowing.  I plunged it and plunged it, but couldn’t get anything to go down!  The toilet in the other downstairs bathroom would not drain either, and Dad said he had heard it bubbling that morning while I was in the shower upstairs.  We called the landlord again, and explained the problem.  He got the guys who’d installed the septic field to come right over.  They dug with shovels down into the ground to check the new system…they snaked it 60 feet to the house and didn’t find any blockage.  Then they went down into the basement to check the pipes down there.  Unfortunately, they were not equipped to open the main drainpipe (didn’t have the right wrench), but advised that they’d get the landlord to call a plumber for us.  By 8:30, there was no sign of a plumber, and we called the landlord again.  He told us that the guy would be there first thing in the morning.  We all packed up our stuff and headed over to Jim’s parents’ house for the night…Jim would come home in the morning to let the plumber in.  Anna was happy to be able to finish her shower, and rinse the shampoo out of her hair!

The next day, I was at work when Jim called to report the plumber’s findings: tampons being flushed down the toilet (not by me!) had completely blocked the pipe.  Problem solved!

3. Slippers.  I was so tired one day last week that I almost left my house for work in the morning wearing my slippers…luckily, I noticed before I got to the car, and changed into sandals!  Earlier in the week, I had attempted to call my boss…realized that the number I’d dialled was my other line after it rang in my office!  It’s a good thing I work solo!

4. Sales.  Dad had an excellent day in the bookstore on Saturday while I was at work…a couple came in and bought over $1000 worth of books (even after a 20% discount)!  Unfortunately, they also left the shelves in a major upheaval, something I will have to remedy today (after I photograph five boxes of books, and put them away along with six more boxes!).

5. Shepherd’s Pie.   Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over yesterday for supper…I was happy to see my “Puddin’ Pop” after not seeing her for three weeks!  I made a huge Shepherd’s Pie (forgot to take a picture), and served the first green salad of the season from my garden (supplemented with baby spinach – didn’t have quite enough leaves).  I gave Elise the new shoes I’d picked up for her at the Quispamsis Yard Sale a few weeks ago, as well as a sweet little dress that called to me in Zellers, and a Canada Day T-shirt I got at Superstore yesterday.  Elise calls Jake now when she drops something for him, and tried to share her snack crackers with her new “best buddy.”  I think he’s liking her better now.

Elise with a big rock she found in my back yard...photo by Anna...

 

Anna had planned to make a berry trifle for dessert, but the kids arrived just as we got back from the grocery store, and Anna preferred to spend her time playing with Elise instead of cooking!  It might get made today…

6. Bonus.  I am no longer a “Twitter virgin”…I tweeted twice on Saturday for events going on at the Market.  It was pouring outside, and I encouraged people to come in out of the rain and meet their friends!  I don’t know if I’ll do Twitter for the bookstore or personally…I find there’s a lot of useless stuff being posted!

I hope everybody has an excellent week…will post a couple more from the archives, and then be back with a new post either Sunday or Monday.  Happy Canada Day, eh!

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Filed under blogging, books, family, food

The Schedule in My Head…

Here’s another post from the archives…it originally appeared on April 10, 2010.  I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to: 

 

Most people who know me would say I’m pretty relaxed…but I have a secret: under this laid-back exterior, there’s a person who gets very anxious when things don’t go according to the careful plan she has laid out in her head…

With seven people in our family, a schedule is pretty much the only way to keep from going insane.  Every member’s practice, medical appointment, birthday party, dance, play, or concert is logged on a giant calendar on the side of our fridge, as are school holidays, and vacation days from work.  Our lives revolve around this calendar – it is checked before committing to anything, and meals are planned around who is going to be home for supper that night.

Calendar...

The schedule is going to be even more important over the next couple of months – we have two daughters in cheerleading (two different teams), and they’re going into competitions – this means extra practices.  One daughter is going to Quebec on a school trip.  Our son is on the tech crew at school, and they’ve been working every night getting ready for the spring production of “Beauty and the Beast.”  Book sale season is starting in May, and we will be travelling to other New Brunswick cities in search of stock for the store.  There are lots of concerts coming up that Jim and I would like to go to as well, and we’re planning a weekend getaway trip sometime this spring.

Our two cheerleaders holding Brianna's team's banner...

I spend weekends doing laundry, getting groceries, and cooking for the week ahead – by the time I sat down in front of my computer last night at 9:45 p.m., the only thing I’d “accomplished” yesterday was getting groceries and making lasagna for supper (which was pretty awesome!).  We spent the rest of the day running kids around (and we did see a great movie in the afternoon – “How to Train Your Dragon”).  My brain was totally fried, and the blog topic I came up with yesterday morning seemed lame and unimportant – I was mad at myself for not taking the time to do my blog, which is one of the favourite parts of my day!  My daughter called me a “slacker” for missing a day, and I felt like one!

Jim doesn’t get my commitment to routine – he pretty much takes things as they come.  He admits that he sleeps better now that he goes to bed about the same time every night – he used to be awake until all hours, and then drag himself out of bed in the morning to go to work.  Jim also eats a lot better than he did when he was a bachelor – he usually has a hot meal (with vegetables) on the table by six o’clock, and leftovers for lunch the next day, instead of fish sticks and fries at 8:00, and fast food for lunch.

Jim and Jake Chilling Out...

However, Jim’s the one who talks me down from my tree when my self-imposed “schedule train” runs off the tracks…”Does it really matter if the laundry isn’t done today?” “Why don’t you stay home from the bookstore and get those seeds planted if that’s what you want to do?” “Let’s just barbecue tonight!”  I’m so glad I found him!

I changed my plan today – I slept until 9:30 a.m.!  I took the time to set my newly-sprouted seedlings outside.  I made myself tea, and toad-in-the-hole for breakfast.  I played on Facebook for an hour.  I helped Jim and Anna wrap and beribbon 4 dozen Rice Krispies squares for the bake sale at Brianna’s cheerleading competition this afternoon.  After they left, I put the first load of laundry in and started this blog post.  It is now 1:15 p.m., and I’m still sitting here in my jammies!  I’ll keep the washer and dryer going, and eventually, I’ll make it into the shower…we’re going to Jim’s mom’s tonight for his sister’s birthday dinner – now THAT’s important!  The rest of the laundry can wait…

The Birthday Girl on New Year's Eve...

Tomorrow night, I’ll see my granddaughter (and her parents) for the first time in almost three weeks – I’m looking forward to that too!

Elise, Just Hanging Around...

I don’t think I’ll ever give up the schedule in my head, but, with my family’s help, I’ll try to stop being so anal about it…

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Blossoms, Babies, Bell-Ringers, Breakfast, and BBQ…NEW POST!

This is going to be another roundup post of some of the things that have happened this past week…I’m home on my first day off in six days, trying to catch up on laundry and cleaning up around the house.

1. Blossoms.  Summer has finally come to Hammond River, after a May in which it rained almost every day.  I was happy to see our tiny rhododendron bush is finally blooming:

Rhododendron Blossom...

A few days later, the blossom was open:

Open Rhododendrons...

Our wild rose bush was also blooming:

Wild Rose...

2. Babies.  Remember the baby groundhog I was talking about seeing, and the sixteen cauliflower plants Jim brought home from Superstore last week?  Well, the critter has been busy munching in the garden, and I now have only two cauliflower plants which still have leaves on them.  I had the “brilliant” idea of putting hot sauce on the leaves of my remaining beans and cruciferous vegetables (NOT! – it burned the leaves).  It’s not looking good garden-wise this year.  The deer have also been in the yard, because the peony buds were chewed off the top of one of the bushes!  I was putting the hose away after watering one night, and found these babies:  

Baby spiders shortly after hatching...

To give you some idea how tiny they were, the big green thing at the side of the photo is my garden hose…it was neat to see the babies coming out of their nest.

3. Bell-Ringers.  This week has been a busy time at the Saint John City Market…I’ve been working solo since Tuesday afternoon.  It is a very big learning curve, but I should be all right…lots of different people and personalities to interact with!  On Saturday, a local man came up to my office and introduced me to a family visiting from Germany.  He asked if the two little boys could ring the market bell.  I opened the window of my office (which gives me a view of the whole market), and grabbed the bell-pull and handed it to the first blond boy…he was about six.  He pulled it twice, wearing a huge grin.  Then it was his little brother’s turn.  I hope that was one of the things those kids will remember about their trip to Saint John!

4. Breakfast.  Sunday was Father’s Day, and Anna and Brianna made breakfast in bed for Jim (Hope was visiting her dad and Devin was fast asleep)…I was elected to go back up and tell Jim he had to stay upstairs until it was ready.  It was definitely worth waiting for…the girls used eggs, cheese, potato patties, bacon and sausage to create this guy (the shirt, tie and flower are made of paper napkins): 

Jim's Father's Day Breakfast...photo by Anna

5. BBQ.  We were invited to Jim’s parents for a Father’s Day barbecue…Kaylee and Scott couldn’t make it (hopefully we’ll get to see them next week).  Jim’s mom and dad provided the meat (chicken, sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers) and potato salad.  Jim’s sister, Kim, brought a veggie/dip tray, and his other sister, Tracy, made a delicious berry trifle for dessert.  I made a broccoli/pasta salad with bow tie pasta, broccoli florets, carrots, mayo and lemon juice (it also has almonds in it, but I brought those separately because of Jim’s allergy to them):

Broccoli Pasta Salad...

We all ate so much that we were stuffed…I went right to bed when we got home!

Well, I’m off to fold some more laundry, and perhaps get caught up on some blog-reading…I’m about a week behind!  I’ll be filling in this week with some more archive posts, and hope to have another new post for you next week!

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Filed under family, food, gardening, nature, photos

Things I’ve Learned Since Last Tuesday…NEW POST!

As most of my readers know, I started a new temporary job last week…I am the Acting Production Manager for the Saint John City Market for the next seven weeks. The job is going to allow me to use my skills in administration, communications, public relations and marketing. The past few days have been one big learning curve! I thought it would be fun to put some of the things I’ve been doing into the context of what they’ve taught me…hope you enjoy it!

1. Sometimes “be-backers” actually come back.  We have people we call “be-backers” come into the bookstore all the time: the ones who take a long time to look at everything, and then leave without buying anything.  They always say as they’re going out the door, “I’ll be back!” (none of them look the least bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger!).  We never see them again…usually.  Last Tuesday, the first cruise ship of the season was in port.  We had two couples come in from the ship.  While they were there, we learned that one of the couples lived in Wooster, Ohio, which is near where my dad went to Theological School in Defiance.  The men were in the U.S. military, and one was quite interested in a Canadian Army training manual we had.  He didn’t buy it, but said that they would go to lunch and think about it.  Two hours later, they all came back with their parents in tow!  He bought the book…

2.  If one is going to attend a two-hour concert at a church, bring a cushion.  My dad sings bass with the Saint John Men’s Chorus, which had its annual spring concert at Portland United Church on Tuesday evening.  Jim, his mom and I went to the show (Jim’s dad wasn’t feeling well).  We all enjoyed it, but were reminded once again of how hard church pews can be!  On a sidenote, there was group of women singers called Still Waters which also performed at the concert.  They sang a Carpenters song which I quite enjoyed, but never knew that it was called “Superstar” (my mom loved The Carpenters, and we often had their albums playing in the 70s).

3. I have very few suitable work clothes that still fit me (or they all shrunk).  It’s been a long time since I’ve had to wear anything more than jeans to work (I usually wear a top, too…cuts down on the staring and pointing!).  I find myself having to buy new clothes, which is rather frustrating when:

a) one is fatter than she wants to be

b) one has very little money to spend

c) one hates shopping for anything besides books and earrings

4. One should start to peel a banana from the bottom.  This handy tip comes from a friend – apparently, that’s how monkeys peel bananas!

How to peel a banana...these are not my hairy hands - photo from videogamevictory.blogspot.com

5. I have too many blog subscriptions, and I’m way behind on reading.  I don’t subscribe to anyone who doesn’t write well, but trying to keep up with everyone’s posts is challenging my sanity!  I feel a bit like I’m trying to choose my favourite children when I open up my e-mail at night!  If I haven’t been around to visit you lately, it’s not because I don’t love you any more…”It’s not you, it’s me!”  I hope to get caught up eventually.

6. The food at Cora’s restaurant is outstanding, and the service goes above and beyond.  On Friday, Jim took me to lunch at Cora’s in Parkway Mall to celebrate the new job.  I ordered Chicken and Swiss Panini-Crepe, with no peppers.  The waitress asked if I wanted the Soup of the Day or tomato juice…since I hate tomato juice (it’s a texture thing), I asked what the soup was.  “Squash and Honey,” was the reply.  I ignored Jim’s stricken look (he’s not a squash fan!) and ordered the soup.  It was delicious!  When the waitress came back, I mentioned that I should learn how to make it because I grew squash in my garden.  A couple of minutes later, she came back with a piece of paper and handed it to me.  Imagine my surprise when I found the soup recipe printed on the back of a Cora’s colouring page!  The recipe was for 48 portions, so I may have to play with it a little…

Soon, the waitress came back with our lunch.  Jim had ordered the “Construction Plate” which is essentially a “He-Man’s Breakfast”: bacon, toast, home fries, eggs, and a tiny bit of fruit.  I was putting the dressing on my salad when the girl told me she’d just been informed that there were peppers on my sandwich:  “Just to be clear, is it an allergy?” she asked, as she picked it up to took it away.

“No,” I answered.  “I just don’t really like green peppers.”

A “pepper-free” Panini soon appeared, and was excellent: like Philly Cheese Steak, only with chicken and Swiss…the Spanish onions were cooked to sweet perfection!  Instead of bread, the sandwich was actually wrapped in a crepe.

As Jim paid for our lunch, we helped ourselves to the complimentary brown sugar fudge at the desk…a perfect ending to our meal!

This is the beef version of my sandwich (I picked the radishes out of my salad)...photo from Cora website

7. I’m not the type of person people remember.  Several times this week, I’ve been (re-)introduced to people I’ve met, and they don’t remember me at first.  I try not to take that personally…I’ve been one of those “beige” people ever since I was a kid…not very exciting!  I’m doing my darnedest to remember all the new people I’ve met so far.

8. The vendors at the Saint John City Market are some of the friendliest folks on the planet.  They interact with many different customers every day: locals, tourists, young people, seniors, and eccentrics…they take it all in stride, and still have smiles on their faces at the end of the day!  Although some of them are distressed (even tearful!) that the woman I’m replacing is leaving, they’ve been nice to me so far!

9. June 11th is too late to buy vegetable plants for the garden.  Remember those seedlings I put in a couple weeks ago while they were ripping up my back yard?  Most of them aren’t doing very well, especially the cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  I managed to pick up some tomato and pepper plants at Co-Op yesterday, but a trip to Brunswick Nurseries to find others was fruitless.  Jim came back with 16 cauliflower seedlings from Superstore last night, which I will plant later today.  I’m hoping that the rest of my plants will rally.  The seeds I planted are coming along nicely, except for the lima beans (only three plants came up) and the sugar snap peas (none of which came up).  Our back yard is still a big hole…

10. A pressure washer is very handy when one lives in an old house.  Jim bought a new toy while I was at work on Friday: he’s been using it to clean all the bird seed debris off the back deck.  We were surprised yesterday after an afternoon of spraying to learn that our house is actually white!  We can see through the windows too!  Years of dirt and other crap has been blasted off my white plastic lawn furniture.  Jim also picked up a new porch glider yesterday…we’ll set it up once the deck is clean.

I’ll be running more pieces from the archives this week, and hope to have another brand-new post next Sunday…have a great week!

 

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Filed under blogging, family, food, gardening, self-discovery

Wood That I Could…

Here’s another one from the archives…it was originally published March 29, 2010 in the first week of my blog.  It’s almost firewood delivery time again…enjoy!

I’m not bragging when I say that we live in a BIG old house (it’s a good thing with seven people in the family).  Instead of building a new one when the family got bigger, they just added on.  Consequently, we have two kitchens, two living rooms, a dining room, a laundry room, five bedrooms, two full baths, and two half baths!  With a house this size and the price of electricity, we appreciate our ability to use our wood furnace for heat.

When we found the house in late October, 2008, there was no firewood left in the basement.  Jim’s parents, and sister and brother-in-law donated some downed trees/brush from their yards to get us started, but I spent the next two months calling every place I could find trying to get wood.  After an exceptionally wet spring and summer (and the death/retirement of a couple of suppliers), firewood was in short supply.  Finally, in late January, I found someone in St. Stephen (an hour-and-a-half away) who had dry wood.  I paid an arm and a leg, plus delivery charges, for two cords.  I asked them to bring it around the back to the basement door, so we could stack it inside.

We came home from work to find that the load had been delivered…however, it was dumped in our driveway (right in front of where we normally park the car).  When I called the supplier, he explained that they had tried to get to the basement, but had gotten stuck in the snow.

That weekend, we rounded up all four kids, my dad, a couple of wheelbarrows (one of which had a wonky wheel), and even a snow scoop, and began the task of transferring the wood from the driveway to the basement.  Each trip was down a hill and around a corner in snow about eight inches deep – countless times, the load would fall off on the way down.  After retrieving the fallen cargo, the wheelbarrow would be taken down a ramp and dumped in the basement for someone to stack.  On more than one occasion, taller people forgot to duck going in, and clocked themselves on low-hanging beams.  It was cold, too!  Getting the wood in took several days.

We were, however, very happy to see the drop in our power bill from January to February – it went from over $700 to less than half of that!

When spring came, we resolved not to be caught without wood again…we called a supplier in Sussex who advertised in the newspaper, and arranged a delivery of five cords in July.  The price per cord was better, and there wasn’t an extra delivery charge!  I repeated my instructions to bring the wood to the back of the house, and told him I would leave a cheque in the mailbox for him.

We arrived home from work on delivery day to find…you guessed it: five cords of wood in the middle of our driveway!  I almost cried!  Deep ruts in the yard indicated where the wood truck had gotten stuck in the mud trying to get to the basement.  “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I had to get another truck to pull me out!” Wally the wood guy told me afterwards.

About 3/4 of the woodpile where it was dumped, completely blocking our "roundabout" driveway...

Jim and I, and my dad, worked away at the pile over the next few weeks (the kids were too busy bouncing on the trampoline/playing on their computers to help!).  At least it was summer, and we didn’t have to haul it through the snow this time!  We enjoyed working together, although we soon found out how out of shape we were!  We ate ibuprofen like M & M’s!

This is me right after I lost my balance and fell into the woodpile...

The wood was good, but it was also infested with earwigs, which I found in the most unsuitable places in my house for weeks after the wood arrived!  Someone left a Brita water pitcher out on the counter…we found an earwig between the insert and the pitcher…ewww!

One of the pesky critters which were all over the house...

Since the wood was a bit wet, Jim used his technical skills to rig up an ingenious drying system using a dehumidifier and a fan placed strategically in the basement.  It was successful, and the wood burned well when it came time to start the furnace up again in October.

Jim and I stacking wood in the basement...

Wally the wood guy called me last month to set up delivery for this year.  We decided he would come with another five cords in July…we both hope he doesn’t get stuck again!

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Pizza, Pots du Chocolats, and Peat Pot Pests…

It’s been a while since I’ve  had a food post…

I finally had a chance to try out the new pizza stone Kaylee and Scott gave me for Mother’s Day last week.  I made homemade spinach/feta/mozzarella pizza and barbecue chicken/mozzarella pizza.  I also realized what I was doing wrong all this time: Better Homes and Gardens cookbook says to cook the crust before putting the toppings on, and then cook it again.  That’s why my crust used to be so hard!  The secret is just to put the toppings on the raw dough and cook it once!  For the spinach one, I used thawed chopped spinach (I squeezed as much water out as possible) and crumbled feta cheese.  Here are my latest results:

Spinach/Feta/Mozzarella Pizza on the pizza stone...yes...it was as yummy as it looks!

Barbecue Chicken/Mozzarella Pizza on regular pizza pan...

Saturday morning, I got up early and made a batch of chili and some homemade spaghetti sauce.  I used some of our frozen garden tomatoes for both.  We had the chili for supper on Saturday night (Hope was at a friend’s house and isn’t a big chili fan), but even with only six of us, we polished off most of the pot (four cans of assorted beans)!

When I got up (at the crack of 10:30) on Sunday morning, I went out to water the garden.  I was surprised to see a car pulling a trailer come into our driveway and a man unload a rowboat onto one of the lots that are for sale (owned by our landlord).  He then proceeded to pull his boat down to the water by hand.  I momentarily considered how much fun it might be to have his car towed, since I had no idea who he was, and that he was trespassing as far as I was concerned.  I didn’t, and he soon came back to his car and drove away.  I still don’t know if it was somebody my landlord knows or not…

I used the spaghetti sauce I made Saturday to make a lasagna-like thing with elbow macaroni (we were out of lasagna)…we’ll have that for supper tonight.  I also cooked some barbecue chicken thighs to have on Tuesday night: we’ll be rushing out the door for the Saint John Men’s Chorus Spring Concert.  While I was cooking, I reorganized our main pantry cupboard…I found fruit cups from 2008…chucked those out in a hurry!  We won’t run short of barbecue sauce any time soon…there were about eight bottles of various brands in there!  If only we’d get a sunny day to barbecue now…

We went over to Kaylee and Scott’s for supper yesterday, and Kaylee made pizza for us too (check the comments below for her pizza crust recipe).  She put green peppers on her Barbecue Chicken pizza, which I picked off and gave to Jim.  Devin picked off the mushrooms on his, but didn’t give them to anybody!  Elise had “deconstructed” pizza (pieces of chicken, mozzarella, green pepper, and mushrooms), which Kaylee took away once Elise started chucking pieces on the floor.  Released from her high chair, Elise then repossessed what was left of her mother’s pizza on the plate on the coffee table, and started eating that.  She threw it on the floor a couple more times, but it landed topping side up each time…five-second rule applies in that case!  After supper, Hope and I sang the “If You’re Happy and You Know It” song along with Barney on TV, much to Elise’s delight…I pretended not to know what to do when Barney said to “Do all three.”  What I didn’t know was that Anna was taking a video of us acting the fool with her phone…there’s a video I hope will never see the light of day!

We checked out a garden center near Kaylee’s after supper…I was in the market for a magnolia bush.  The ones at the garden center in our area cost more than $200, which is way out of my price range!  Anna didn’t want to get out of the van, even though Hope told her that cute boys were working there!  We didn’t buy anything…they had mostly flowers.  It was a nice drive, but it made me realize how much I love where we live!

When we got home, Anna and I made lava cakes (this recipe is from Food Network’s Chuck Hughes)…note to self: when buying ramekins, check the size!  The recipe called for 4 oz. ramekins…the ones we got were about 7.5 oz.!  The lava cakes were delicious though, and very easy!

Our lava cakes...we doubled the recipe to make eight, and didn't have any ice cream to top them with...

Once the lava cakes were done, I went out to check on my garden.  To my great disgust, something, probably the baby groundhog I saw the other day, had started digging up my transplanted peat pots and chewing on them.  He had no interest in the plants, just the biodegradable pots I’d gotten at the dollar store!

Dug-up peat pot with lone leek seedling sticking out...

Something is also nibbling the occasional bean plant and some of the sunflowers too…most of the seeds I planted last week are up, with the exception of the lima beans.  I don’t know if my transplants are going to make it or not…they got very dry sitting out in the sun.  I’ll probably have to replace all of the cruciferous vegetables, and most of the peppers and tomatoes.

Jim and Devin went out last night and trimmed some trees…one of the largest trees in the back yard suffered some damage due to the big snowfalls during the winter.  There was a big branch hanging down over my garden, which was providing unwanted shade and a hazard for me!  They got rid of that one!  Jim also made a path for me to the hose (the outdoor faucet has a large pine tree in front of it, and I was scratching my arms every time I tried to water my plants).  I appreciated the new nozzle Jim had picked up for me earlier in the week…the old one hadn’t survived the winter well, and was giving me more water than the plants!

It’s raining today…weeding will be my next task in the garden once the rain stops!

*Note to my blogging buddies: I am running about a week behind with my reading…I’m not ignoring you…I will be visiting soon!  WM

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Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening

Paradise Tossed…

As mentioned previously, I took Tuesday off from the bookstore to get my seedlings into the ground in the garden.  I wish I hadn’t been home that day!

The weather was glorious…sunny and warm…quite a change from the cloudy, wet days which had dominated most of April and May!  I put on a tank top and a pair of shorts, pulled my hair back in a ponytail and slapped a baseball cap on my head, slathered all exposed skin with sunscreen (I thought…more about that later!), and off I went!

I had been outside for a couple of hours (worked through lunchtime) when I heard heavy equipment in our driveway.  I knew the men must be coming to continue working on our septic bed.  The guy Jim had talked to about it a month ago had warned us that we would probably be losing our lilac bush, and that they would have to come into our back yard to do the work…we had come home to see a small hole at the edge of our yard Monday night, with a backhoe parked beside it on the other side of the fence.

I was putting my little peat pots of seedlings into the ground when the backhoe started tearing up the lilac bush…I watched with tears streaming down my face as most of the lilac bush (he left one small piece right next to the deck), and all of the alders behind it were destroyed in front of my eyes…bird habitat, shade and privacy all gone in a few short minutes!  The scoop of the machine caught in the wire fence, and broke it…the driver barely paused from his horrible work…

Later, the backhoe operator climbed down from his perch to view the destruction he had wrought.  He was a young, well-muscled man wearing sunglasses, a ball cap, a black tank top, and jeans.  He strolled into the yard and waved to me as I stood, staring, in the garden.  I felt like I should talk to him.

Slowly, I walked over.  I was so angry, I didn’t care that I wasn’t wearing makeup or hadn’t shaved my legs in recent memory, or that my face was sweaty and tear-streaked, or that dirt from the garden was stuck to my sunscreened ankles!  “You’re going to have to fix that fence!  It belongs to me!” I said, realizing that I was still crying.

The guy looked at me and probably wondered what he’d gotten himself into. “Um, yeah…I caught it by accident.”

“I don’t care what you do, even if you have to twist it back together with pliers…just make sure that it’s closed before you leave.  If the deer get into my garden, it’s not going to be pretty!”

He assured me that he would.

“I’m sorry…I know you’re just doing your job,” I said, wiping the tears angrily from my cheeks.  “But, do you see all those bird feeders?” I asked, pointing to the eight bird feeders on our deck (Jim hadn’t put out the three hummingbird feeders yet this year).  “That lilac bush was where our birds sat!  Please tell me that the apple tree is going to stay!”

“Oh yeah…I’m going to just do a track wide enough to drive through,” he assured me.

“Thank you,” I said.  “Well, I guess I should get back to my garden.  I’ve got a bunch more plants to get in.”

I finished up in the garden just after 4:00.  I was using the hose to rinse off my metal trays when the backhoe operator came up behind me…

“Excuse me…could we get you to unlock the basement door so we can see where the pipe comes into the house?” he asked.

“Okay…just let me finish up here, and I’ll run down and do that.”

I let them into the basement and warned them not to hit their heads on the low beam…I laughed as I told them how many times I’d “brained” myself on it.  They located the pipe and I closed and locked the basement door after them.

Later that night, I was getting ready for bed when I absentmindedly scratched my lower back…ouch!  Looking in the mirror, I realized that I’d been squatting in the garden for nearly six hours, and that the back of my tank top must have been riding up…I had a lovely red stripe of sunburn above the waist of my shorts.  Jim put some aloe vera on it for me.

*****

We were driving home from work on Wednesday when I mused, “I wonder what death and destruction waits for us at home!”  I was joking.

Arriving at the house, I ran to the back door to see what the workmen had been up to…the first thing I noticed was that the apple tree was GONE!  That little @#$%er had lied to me!  The fence was now open on two sides, allowing the deer full access to our back yard.  The backhoe had obviously been digging all day, and sat in the middle of the hole, surrounded by dirt.

View from the corner of our yard on Wednesday...there were solid trees and bushes between the house and the backhoe before...photo by Anna

What the yard looked like when we moved there in the fall of 2008 (we later planted our garden between the fence and the row of trees)...Hope is beside the fence...photo by Jim

*****

The guys were back yesterday and spent the day bringing in truckloads of dirt and dumping them in our yard.  I was home from the store again because I had a migraine…I successfully resisted the urge to throttle a certain young backhoe operator, and stayed in the house all day.  Jake barked his head off.

View from my deck this morning...there used to be an apple tree where all that dirt is...you can see the few pieces of the lilac tree at the right...

It’s a good thing for him that my landlord is out of town right now…otherwise, he’d be getting an earfull from me…I am not a happy camper!

To be continued…

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Seedlings, Saling, Streamers, and School Picture Day…

It’s been a busy week in Hammond River:

1. A week ago Friday, Hope and I were on the way to Giant Tiger to get presents for Dad for his birthday.  As we approached a pedestrian light, Hope observed that it should be the type that makes a noise, “You know, for the deaf people.”

I looked at her and asked, “What did you just say?”

“Oh!” she said sheepishly.  “I meant blind people!”

2. We celebrated Kaylee’s 25th and Dad’s 74th birthday with a combo party last Sunday.  The sun even made an appearance!  We enjoyed sitting out on our deck for a while, although I was dismayed to find that some small animal had chewed a hole in the seat of one of our deck chairs that we just bought last summer!

Kaylee reading in the background while Elise plays with her mom's birthday balloon...

 

For dessert, we had pound cake (thanks for the recipe, Lenore!), and chocolate cinnamon cake:

Kaylee's Birthday Cake...decorated by Anna...note to self: remember that Kaylee loves pound cake but doesn't like cream cheese icing!

Dad's Birthday Cake, decorated by Brianna...

3. Seedlings.  Monday was a holiday for Canadians: Queen Victoria’s birthday.  I took advantage of the lack of precipitation to finally get seeds planted in the garden!  My seedlings, however, are still hanging out in my back kitchen, waiting to go outside.  It’s supposed to be decent weather tomorrow, so I’m planning to stay home from the bookstore and get them transplanted!

Mostly tomato seedlings, with peppers at bottom left and brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and bunching onions in two trays at top left

4. Saling.  Saturday was the Annual Quispamsis Yard Sale.   It was misty, but not really raining, so Jim and I and the girls piled into the van, equipped with our highlighted map…we actually got away from the house within 15 minutes of the time we’d planned to leave!  Pickings were fairly slim compared to the first year we went, but I managed to get about $250 worth of books for less than $20!  Jim got a new leather wallet still in the box for a dollar (his old one is like George’s on Seinfeld!), 5 sets of Magnetix building toys for $1 each (which will be kept well out of Elise’s reach!), and a mitre saw for $15.  This was our best buy though:

My New Old China Cabinet (minus the shelves - we took them out to clean them)...reflections of my dining table in the glass

This china cabinet was sitting with a sign that said “Make an Offer” on it…it was filthy…I fell in love immediately!  After Jim saw me get all excited about it (and some discussion about where we would put it), he made an offer (I told him it could be my birthday present)!  After a little dickering, he got the cabinet as well as a bright green desk and chair for Brianna for $120.  Hope and I cleaned up the cabinet last night, and it already looks way better than it did when we bought it!  I’m planning to put my mom’s collections and some of my other family knickknacks in it.

5. Streamers.  I spent yesterday catching up on laundry, seven loads to be exact…I should have it all folded by Tuesday!  Dad worked on deerproofing the garden.  He installed the poles we got a few weeks ago, and strung them with string and streamers.  I hope it will do the trick!

Our (hopefully) deerproof fence...we are officially country folks now...only the best families have yellow caution tape flying from string in their back yards!

6. School Picture Day.  Wednesday, June 1st has been designated as School Picture Day by Clay Morgan at EduClaytion.  I will be participating along with my friends Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom), possibly Chase McFadden (Some Species Eat Their Young) and a bunch of other folks.  You’re invited too…just dig out your yearbook photos, write a little post, and then link up on Wednesday!

Graphic courtesy of ironicmom.com...

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