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Charming Cherubs, Ghastly Greenery, and Other Holiday Highlights…

Christmas, 2010, is history in Hammond River…here are some highlights (and lowlights!)…you might want to pour yourself a cup of tea and grab a cookie or two…this is a long one:

1. Christmas Cabaret.  On Wednesday, Anna went to her high school’s Christmas Cabaret at the Lily Lake Pavilion at Rockwood Park.  She insists that she didn’t dance with any boys while she was there, but claims she had fun!

Anna before Cabaret...my little girl is growing up!

2. A Visit from “New Orleans Nick.”  Thursday evening, I came home from the bookstore with a killer migraine…I went upstairs to bed.  While I was up there, Jim’s cousin, Nick, stopped in enroute to Nick’s mom’s house in Fredericton.  Jim had bought a router for him to give to his mother as a Christmas gift along with a new computer Nick got for her.  Nick’s plane from Louisiana had landed in Bangor earlier that day, and he was driving from there to his mom’s.  I’m sorry I missed Nick…he has a pretty tight schedule when he comes home to visit! 

3. Ghastly Greenery.  I managed to kill my 2-year-old poinsettia by overwatering it, just in time for Christmas…this is how it looked before it went to the big compost bin in the back yard (note to self – look in the pot before watering…don’t just pour water on it blindly!).  The Christmas cactus (you can see the buds in the lower left corner of the photo) is doing fabulously, though:

Dead poinsettia in the kitchen window...

4. A “Touch”-ing Evening.  We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Jim’s parents’ house, followed by opening presents with Devin and Brianna before they left for their mom’s house.  I let Anna and Hope unwrap one of their presents too…all the girls got iPod Touch’s (I wonder if the bank will give us a mortgage on a house we don’t own?).  Jim told Hope to turn hers over after she opened it…we had them engraved with the girls’ names.  “What does it say?” Jim asked.

“iPod!” Hope answered.

Hope with her new toy and her fleece sweater from Grammy and Grampy...the brown sweater behind her is one she gave Jim...

Devin’s big present was driving lessons, but we also got him a new chair for his computer desk.  I got him a new sandwich maker that doesn’t require a twist tie to hold the two sides together…nothing but the best for our boy!

5. The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,

And all over the floor,

A creature was puking

And leaving piles galore…

Jake had been the recipient of the ham bone from our dinner at Grammy’s house…he wasted no time in attacking it, much to his later regret (and ours).  Jake threw up all night and half of Christmas Day…during a somewhat hysterical holiday phone call, our local vet managed to talk me down out of my (Christmas) tree, assuring me that Jake was “a victim of his own excess” and that he would probably be fine.  The doctor didn’t see our water-hating dog climb into the bathtub (twice), or fall asleep standing up while desperately trying to find a comfortable position!  The vet ended up being right, though…thanks, Dr. B.!  Thanks also to my dad, who did most of the cleanup duty! 

6.  Operation Stocking Complete.  I managed to finish Elise’s handmade crocheted Christmas stocking at Jim’s parents’ on Christmas Eve while the kids were opening presents…considering I completely made up the pattern (except for the snowflakes), I think it came out pretty well!

Elise's one-of-a-kind crocheted stocking...snowflakes on other side too...

 

7. Our Green Christmas Came Early.  About 7 a.m., Hope opened our bedroom door and called up to Jim and I that it was time to open presents…I was grateful that she’d gone to bed late (otherwise, she might have had us up at five!).  We stumbled downstairs in our jammies, and sat on the couch while the kids piled presents in our laps as fast as we could open them (they did open some themselves, in between).  I got lots of chocolate (just what I need…not!), gift cards (yay!), and a promise of a trip (without kids) to Prince Edward Island with Jim sometime in the early season (can’t wait!).  Jim and Devin also did an upgrade and installed a new flat-screen monitor on my home computer (the old one was on its last legs!).  Thanks, Honey!  I think Jim liked the dress wool jacket I got for him (sometimes procrastination pays off – 40% off two days before Christmas…score!), and the tickets to The Who tribute concert in January at the Imperial Theatre.  He’s also planning to buy a snazzy new lens for his camera later on…I’ll kick in some funds for that too!

I had just nicely finished my breakfast about 10 a.m., when I realized how many presents were still under the tree awaiting Kaylee and Scott’s arrival…I thought it would be a good idea to suggest they allow extra time to stop at home and drop off presents before proceeding to their next destination after our house…Scott’s car is rather small!  I was talking to Kaylee on the phone when it suddenly went dead…they walked in the door two seconds later, a full two hours before we were expecting them!  They’d been on the go since 5:30 that morning, but hadn’t had breakfast…I switched into “Mommy mode” and started a bagel/toast production line for everybody who was hungry…

Elise had already had some practice opening presents at Uncle Sean’s that morning, and Grampy Paul’s the night before…she was starting to get the hang of it.  Jim took this photo of Elise opening her Etch-A-Sketch/Magna Doodle combo:

Elise opening her presents Christmas Day...

I think Elise’s favourite presents were the soft baby doll I got her, the Potty Elmo from Auntie Anna, and the Little People Farm from Grandad.  I think Kaylee and Scott were happy to have the portable highchair Grandad got for them…it even goes into the dishwasher!  Kaylee liked the tickets for the Great Big Sea concert Jim and I gave her, and Scott seemed to like the lined hoody I got him (plain black, of course).  He wondered if the shaving cream in his stocking might have been some kind of hint…

Elise was exhausted by the time she was finished…they took her home for a nap about lunchtime.  I started making my rolls for our Boxing Day/Christmas Dinner the next day.

About suppertime, we got ready to go over to Jim’s parents for Christmas Dinner with them and Jim’s sisters…unfortunately, Jim’s sister, Kim, wasn’t feeling well.  Her husband, Chris, came and picked up plates for them to take home.  We had another scrumptious dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, and apple pie for dessert!  Yummy!  Jim’s sister, Tracy, played Santa Claus and passed out presents.  Jim’s parents got me some more gift cards, a beautiful set of three bracelets, and a long-sleeved top.  Jim got a nice sweater, a shirt and a pair of pants.  Jim’s mom and dad liked the printer we got them, the Sears gift card, and the shaped 1000-piece dragon puzzle Anna and Hope gave them.

We went to bed soon after we got home…it was a busy day!

8. No One Was Punched on Boxing Day (they waited until the next day).  In Canada, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday the day after Christmas…pretty much everything is closed.  It was after I made everybody a sausage and scrambled egg breakfast that I discovered I hadn’t left us enough eggs to make my stuffing and Jim’s dressing later in the day.  I started making my stuffing and getting the turkey ready to go into the oven (I used my new food processor to cut the celery and onions), while Jim made an emergency egg run to Shoppers Drug Mart (thank goodness they have eggs!).  Devin and Brianna came back from their mom’s…before she left, they showed us their new chihuahua puppy, Azul, who was a lovely shade of gray-brown, very unusual colour for that breed. 

The snowstorm started soon after that, and continued through Monday until we had about a foot of snow. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon peeling and cutting vegetables for our dinner: carrots and rutabaga from the garden, squash from our garden (from the freezer), potatoes, broccoli, and corn.  Jim made his dressing, and the gravy…we danced around each other in the kitchen…it’s not my favourite thing having people there when I’m cooking!  I tried unsuccessfully to find my Christmas tablecloth and placemats…no luck!  My stuffing got soggy in the top of the potato pot because I had so many potatoes in it…I tried to dry it out in the oven a little bit.  Everything took longer than I thought it would, and I ended up serving it about 30 minutes later than I intended to.  The kids were all sitting around the table waiting by the time I brought the food in (I think Elise was already eating carrots!).  The buns were delicious…

Buns, fresh from the oven...

 And so was our blueberry/blackberry pie I took out of the freezer for dessert…remember this?

Blueberry/Blackberry pie I made this fall...

After a day of doing dishes and finally getting around to making a couple of loaves of lemon bread, I’m back at the bookstore today…glad to get back to my routine!

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Dear Santa…A Canine Christmas Letter…

I've been a very good boy this year!

Dear Santa:

How are you?  I am fine (except for that anxiety I have every time Mommy or Daddy are out of my sight…maybe you could put some doggy Paxil in my stocking?). 

Mommy’s been upstairs a lot the last couple of days…I think she might be sick.  I could fit a lot of Milk Bones into the bags she’s got under her eyes (I’m kinda sick of Milk Bones, though)!  Mommy’s cranky too…she moans every time she has to get up to let me outside…sometimes she says bad words too!  Come to think of it, I’m mad at her…her coughing is keeping me awake at night!  After three days without a shower, she’s starting to smell a bit too…

I’ve been a very good boy this year, except for that unfortunate incident with Mommy’s friend from Ontario this summer…I suppose I wasn’t very nice to him!  Oh, yeah… I messed up Mommy’s plants a few times, ate her bread, and pooped in the back kitchen every day, but you probably know all that!

The chimney guy was here a few weeks ago, so you shouldn’t get too dirty on your slide down…I tried to scare him away, but he wouldn’t go!

Here’s what I want for Christmas:

1. Another bone like Daddy brought me home from his staff Christmas party at Montana’s…it was so big, I think it must have come from an elephant!

Me with my elephant bone...

2. Some slower squirrels…I want to play with them, but when I run out on the deck and bark at them, they all run away!

3. Snausages…my favourites are the cheesy ones!  And the bacon ones.  And the chicken ones.  Just bring me a bag of each!

4. A new Frisbee…mine’s full of slobber and teethmarks!

See how decrepit my old one is?

 

5. A new sweater.  How am I ever going to be featured in Dogs in Canada wearing clothes like this?

Can you believe my Mommy paid $10 for this? It fell apart the first time she washed it!

 

6. Please ask Hope to sew up the hole in my baby so I can play with it again.  I don’t even mind that it’s a stuffed cat!  Shaking my baby violently from side to side is the highlight of my day…what cat wouldn’t love that?  Maybe after the hole is fixed, Mommy could throw her in the washer.

My baby...

7. Please make Kaylee and Scott forget that Thing when they come on Christmas.  Seriously, when they were here for the Christmas photo, it spent the whole time chewing on its furry sleeve!  Oh, wait…I lick my favourite furry parts, too…never mind!

That Thing...It looks harmless, but it chases me!

8. Please bring Daddy a new jockstrap so that when he comes home, I won’t hurt him when I jump up to say “Hi!”  It’s probably a good thing I only weigh 15 lbs. (and that Daddy’s not planning on having any more children!).

9. I’d really like it if Grammy and Grampy would come over for Christmas (I can’t go to their house because I don’t like riding in the car…please send that Paxil soon!).  Grampy always has treats in his pocket for me!

Grampy and my cousin, Bella...she scares me!

10. Please send doggy kisses to all of Mommy’s blogging friends and wish them happy holidays for us (oh, and maybe a paper towel, for afterward)!

Love, Jake   

 

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A Wilde and Snowy Weekend…

I apologize for the four-day gap between posts…even though it was not a holiday weekend here in Canada, it was a busy time!

1. Sinking to New Depths.  On Wednesday afternoon, Jim looked out the window and saw a septic tank cleaning truck stuck up to its axles in the mud in our front field…very bad idea on the part of our landlord’s brother, who owns the lots next to our house and is trying to sell them!  Needless to say, no sewage was sucked that day (although I imagine the truck driver was probably throwing the S-word around pretty freely)!

2. Lost Subscriber.  I think it was sometime on Thursday that I discovered that someone had cancelled his subscription to my blog…being obsessed with stats as I am, I was upset and hurt.  Had I said something to offend him?  Was my blog quality slipping?  After second guessing his motives for a few minutes  hours days, I decided to get over it…he “just wasn’t that into me.” 

3. Parent-Teacher Conference.  While my American friends and family were eating turkey on Thursday, I was on the Stairmaster meeting with Hope’s teachers at Quispamsis Middle School.  I met with six of her teachers in five different classrooms on two different floors.  Suffice to say, whoever made up our schedule must have known I need to lose a few pounds…the first meeting was on the second floor, second meeting on the first floor…you get the gist of where this is going!  I was up and down more than the Canadian dollar!  All of Hope’s teachers were very nice, and told me what a pleasure she was to have in their classes (I’m pretty sure they were actually talking about my kid).  I was relieved because I had been dreading the encounter with some of them.  I made sure Hope was thoroughly embarrassed by giving a lot of them my bookstore business card.  I also ran into one of Kaylee’s former high school teachers (he has a child attending QMS).  To Hope’s horror, I whipped out the photo album with Elise’s pictures to show him what Kaylee’s daughter looked like!

4. Alice’s Adventures.  One of the things that came up at the Parent-Teacher conference is that Hope needs to spend more time reading.  When we got home, I took down our copy of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and asked Hope if she wanted me to read it to her.  She was unsure at first, but trudged upstairs with me anyway.  That book is quite enjoyable to read aloud, and Hope laughed in all the right places (I decided that the Mouse would have a Manchester accent).  We read two chapters Thursday night, and two more last night.

5.  Back to Work Friday.  The kids had the day off Friday because of Parent-Teacher conferences, but it was Jim’s first day back to work after his surgery.  He arranged with his boss to leave a couple of hours early in the afternoon…wanted to ease into the routine.  Hope came to town with me to hang out with her friend, Gabrielle, and go shopping.  Here’s what Hope bought for Jake at the Dollar Store:

Hope and Jake (photo by Jim)...this will be Hope's Christmas card this year...

6. The Importance of Being Earnest.  Jim and I went to see an ultra-modern version of Oscar Wilde’s excellent satire on Friday evening at the Imperial Theatre (there were references to Facebook and e-mail, and characters were checking their PDA’s).  The Saint John Theatre Company did a bang-up job as usual, delivering Wilde’s lines with the biting sarcasm we’ve come to expect from Oscar.  My favourite is Lady Bracknell’s response when Jack declares that he’s an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

7. Santa and Snow Come to Town.  Saturday morning was bright and sunny when we woke up…surely the weatherman was mistaken about snow later in the day…Anna had to be on the West Side at noon for the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade.  After an emergency stop at the mall for black sweatpants, she arrived just in time to make it into the team photos being taken before the parade.  By then, it was snowing like crazy!  We watched the parade from the car (Hope got out…she collected the candy given out during the parade, but didn’t share with us!).

Anna...self-portrait after the parade...

After a nap for Jim, and a quick supper, we were back on the road enroute to the Kennebecassis Valley Santa Claus Parade, which Hope’s cheerleading team was marching in.  The coach had told the girls to be there by 5:30…we were a little late due to a stop at Co-Op for a can of tomato paste.  The parade was forming at the high school, and by the time we got near it, the road was blocked off.  Traffic was crazy!  Jim drove us to his parents’ house, and we all walked to the high school from there (about a mile, I think).  Hope got there just in time to join up with her team.  Anna and I watched the parade, while Jim followed Hope’s team in the parade, snapping photos like a paparazzi.

Hope and her cheerleading team in the parade...photo by Jim

After the parade, Anna and I met Jim back at Jim’s parents’ house…Jim’s mom made Anna hot chocolate, and some tea for me.  I was exhausted, but not as tired as Hope, who had walked another half an hour longer than I had!  She went to bed as soon as we got home!

8. Little Wendy Homemaker.  Sunday morning, I got up early…in addition to four loads of laundry, I had plans to make homemade spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden.  Kaylee, Scott and Elise were coming over for supper.  Jim suggested I make chocolate macaroons for dessert…we call them “doodoo drops” at our house:

"DooDoo Drops"

 

I took precautions and put up the baby gate in front of the dining room door, to prevent a repeat of the unfortunate molasses brown bread incident.

9.  Ridiculous Gifts.  In between loads of laundry and cooking, I had a little time to peruse some of the many catalogues which have made their way into my mailbox.  Here are a couple of examples of what people are supposedly plunking down their credit cards for: 

Cast Iron Giraffe Toilet Paper Holder - $27.95...what kind of self-respecting jungle animal wears Charmin as an accessory? I could make him a scarf...

The Hot Seat Swivel Stool...$395...I can't have one of these because they only deliver to the continental U.S....darn!

10. That’s What She Said.  When Kaylee and Scott arrived (early, as is their custom), Elise happened to find the TV remote, and turn it on.  The big-screen TV also acts as Jim’s computer monitor, and he had been looking at his photos onscreen.  Anna and I took the opportunity to show our guests some shots from our PEI trip this summer.  Jim had several shots of some very tame foxes.  Kaylee looked at one and announced confidently, “That one’s definitely a girl!”  Anna asked, “Are you sure?”  After taking another look, Kaylee said, “Oh…I thought that was a hole…”(the poor girl inherited my eyesight!). 

One of the fox photos...not the one that fooled Kaylee!

We had fun with Elise…it had been a couple of weeks since we’d seen her.  She has added the word “flower” to her vocabulary…she had flowers on her very cute little coat that she got for her birthday.

Kaylee, Elise, Hope, and the fuzzy flower coat at Elise's 1st birthday party...

11. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  After simmering for a little over five hours, the spaghetti sauce was finally the right consistency.  To save a major mess, I decided to serve it with penne rigate instead of spaghetti, since we don’t have a high chair for Elise yet.  She rejected the old dishtowel I tied around her neck as a bib (it was clean, and only had a couple of holes in it!).  I also offered utensils, but she preferred to use both hands to feed the pasta and carrots into her mouth.

12. Nick Needs to Go!  Amazing Race is down to the last four teams…last night, Nick showed himself to be the whining dickhead that he truly is once again (sorry for the potty mouth, but Nick is a waste of skin).  Poor Vicki was struggling to run in the heat with her asthma, and he was telling her to “suck it up”!  She spent the episode throwing up after a food challenge, but didn’t want to quit.  When faced with finding a certain fishing boat in the dark, Nick gave up, and said he was going to go to sleep, leaving Vicki holding the ball again (she is the only one who has any, apparently).  They ended up at the pit stop without completing the task, and now have a six-hour penalty and a speed bump…it was a non-elimination round.  Please, Vicki…stop wasting your time with this buffoon…he keeps saying he’s changed, but he lies!

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The Sweet Smell of Success, Sort of…

Yesterday, I took advantage of having a relatively slow day (only two loads of laundry, two cheerleading practices, a cheer parents’ meeting, and a dinner invitation at Jim’s parents) to make molasses brown bread.  I had mentioned making bread on Saturday to Jim on Friday night, and he’d requested brown bread made with molasses.  Since we went to a movie and out for supper on Saturday, I didn’t get to the bread until Sunday.

Never having made Molasses Brown Bread before, my first step was to find a recipe…I went to my well-stocked cookbook shelves (I probably have only about 200), and selected a cookbook from a local church.

Brown Bread

2 T. quick-rise yeast

1 T. sugar

3 T. shortening

1 cup raisins

1 egg, beaten

1 cup warm water

1 cup oatmeal

2 cups boiling water

3/4 cup molasses

1 T. salt

6-7 cups flour or enough to knead

First, I put the oatmeal and raisins into a bowl, and poured the boiling water over them.

Oatmeal and Raisins Covered in Boiling Water...

After the oatmeal/raisin mix was cool, I put 5 cups of the flour, the yeast, the sugar, and the salt into a large mixing bowl, and stirred to mix them around.  I put the warm water and the shortening into a measuring cup.  Then I got out the molasses…problem!

A little bit short of molasses...needed 3/4 cup!

I didn’t have quite enough molasses, so topped the cup up with honey…it’s all liquid sugar, right?  Then I added the warm water mixture to the bowl with the flour in it, and stirred it in.  Next, I added the egg, and finally the molasses and the bowl with the oatmeal and raisins.  I added two more cups of flour (used the full 7 cups), and kneaded the dough until it was smooth.  Then I oiled the dough, covered it with plastic wrap and left it to rise.

Dough before first rise...

About 45 minutes later, it looked like this:

Dough after first rise...

 I punched it down, covered it, and let it rise again, until it looked like this:

Dough after second rise...

I greased a 9 x 14 cake pan, and then punched the dough down again.  Then I formed the loaves, and put them in the pan:

Newly-formed loaves in pan...

I left the loaves to rise again, until they looked like this:

Loaves after third rise...ready to bake!

I turned the oven on to 375 degrees, and put the bread in for fifteen minutes.  Then I reduced the heat to 325 degrees, and baked for another 25 minutes (our oven is hot – others may find it works better with 400 degrees for the first part, and 350 for the second).  After the allotted amount of time, I took the bread out of the oven, and out of the pan.  I had a minor issue with one loaf sticking to the bottom of the pan, and slightly squishing another on the top.  This is the finished product (cracks and all):

Finished loaves of Molasses Brown Bread...

I sliced one piece each off one of the loaves for Jim and I to sample…we wanted to take a loaf to Jim’s parents, and had to make sure it was okay.  It was delicious!

I had left the loaves on the dining room table to cool, and realized after we got to Shirley and Gordon’s that I’d forgotten to bring them some.  I promised to leave one for them to get this afternoon when they drop off Bri after her orthodontist’s appointment.  We had a lovely dinner: chicken, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls, apple pie, and blueberry pie.

We had to leave Jim’s parents’ at 7:15 because there was a meeting for cheerleading parents at Hope’s school after her practice. 

We got home about 8:30, narrowly missing a skunk which had just ambled across our driveway!  I went into the dining room to put the bread into plastic bags, and was horrified to see what Jake had been up to while we were gone!  He had eaten almost half the bread (the only loaf he hadn’t touched was the one I’d cut to sample).  I salvaged what I could (I might have said a bad word or two, too!)…six hours of work was ruined!  I guess there’s no point crying over chewed-up brown bread…

"But they smelled so good, Mom!"

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Of Pumpkins, Presidents, Pooches, and Puddin’ Pop…

Here’s a wrapup of the last few days in Hammond River:

1. Regular readers of this blog know that I had a really big garden this year…we had frost last week (the rest of the tomatoes are ripening in the basement under newspaper), so it’s time to start bringing stuff in before the snow starts to fly.  I spent Sunday harvesting the remaining pumpkins and squash, and stored them in the basement…the kids each want to carve a pumpkin for Halloween (Hope’s already decided on Mickey Mouse for hers).  I also brought in about eight rutabagas, and cooked them in the oven.  Loads of rutabagas, carrots, and beets still in the ground…they’ll be okay for a while.

Here's a less-scary photo of Puddin' Pop than the last one I posted...

2. Anna slept most of the day on Sunday…her cheerleading team had a “Wakeathon” fundraiser on Saturday night.  Luckily, my dad went to town to pick her up at 7:30 in the morning…Jim is not a morning person!  She was one tired teenager when she got home…they had fun though!

The girls at the Wakeathon...Anna is the tall one in the back with the "Aeropostale" shirt on...

3. Hope was in a baking mood when she got up on Sunday…she wanted to make muffins, so she found a recipe for Cinnamon Muffins and we made them.  They were yummy…tasted like those little cinnamon donuts we used to have when we were kids!  We used wooden skewers to spear the muffins and roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mix…way less messy that way.

4. We’ve had an issue with rodents in the house again this fall…Dad has set traps all over the basement, and a few baits as well.  He’s caught four star-nosed voles in the traps, which he then puts into the compost bin outside…he reported this morning that that latest one he’d caught had been partially eaten!  Can’t wait to see that one in the bin – NOT!  Dad really wants to catch the critter that’s running through the walls of his bedroom and keeping him awake at night…he thinks it’s one of our squirrels or chipmunks.

5. Dad has a couple of good friends who usually stop by on Saturday mornings at the bookstore for a chat…he mentioned that they hadn’t been around for a while, because they were away on a trip to Washington, D.C.  Dad said that he’d encouraged them to stop in at the White House to see if the President had received the Abraham Lincoln bookends he’d sent him.  What??? 

“When did you do that, Dad?” 

“Three or four months ago,” he answered. 

“I’m surprised they haven’t sent you a Thank You note by now,” I said. 

“Oh, there was a box to tick if you wanted an acknowledgement, but I didn’t check it off.”  That’s my Dad…he’d read somewhere that Abe Lincoln had been a hero of Obama’s (as he is for my dad), and decided to send him his bookends, which he’d had for many years.

My Grandad T. had the same birthday as Abe Lincoln...

6. I smelled a skunk just before I was about to let Jake out into the back yard the other night (I decided to take him out on the leash out front instead!)…we saw one dead in the road near our driveway yesterday…reminds me of a song!

7. We took the Toyota to Canadian Tire yesterday to have new snow tires put on…while we were waiting, we visited Jim’s parents.  The guy at the service counter told us it would be an hour-and-a-half, and they were true to their word.  Jim is quite excited about the new tires…we were “testing” them on the highway on the way home…he took his hands off the steering wheel momentarily: “Look…no more wobbling!” he said.  I was disappointed when we got home to find that Jake hadn’t folded the two big piles of laundry in the family room…we may have to look into trading him for a more industrious canine!  He can undo zippers on lunchbags…why couldn’t he fold laundry?

8. Last night, we had Puddin’ Pop (Elise) and her mom and dad over for supper…it was Scott’s 27th birthday.  Scott had grown a beard in honour of his birthday.  I had roasted a couple of small chickens, made mashed potatoes, corn, and a Whipped Rutabaga Puff with the rutabaga from the garden.  It was amazing and easy: just threw some eggs and bread crumbs in with the cooked rutabaga, and used the mixer to whip it.  We had two cakes: Black Forest, and a Cinnamon Coffee Cake for the non-chocolate lovers (Devin and Hope).  Jim and the girls got the cakes ready in the kitchen, lit the candles and carried them in.  I brought up the rear, and started counting 1-2-3, and burst into the Happy Birthday song…all by myself!  They’d gone ahead without me, and had already sung it.  Everybody (except me) got a good laugh out of it!

Scott sharing his popsicle with Elise...

After supper, I played with Elise a bit…she had a great time grabbing my glasses off my face and trying to get hold of my dangly earrings.  I’ve missed her since I last saw her two weeks ago.  We’re looking after her on Saturday while Kaylee and Scott go to a wedding.  I told Kaylee she’d better have instructions for me:  have never put on a cloth diaper in my life!  I’ll have to remember not to throw them away!  Hope will help me with that, though…

9. Thanks to the Internet, I finally have an idea for Halloween costumes for Jim and I for his sister’s party Friday night…big secret…will post photos later.

10. My friends have been having some good fortune this week:  my buddy, Guy, was elected to his municipal council in Lavigne, Ontario; my buddy, Jamie, was in a BMW Mini TV commercial (click on his name to see it – he’s the bald guy trying to break the egg); and my blogging friend, Lin, got to meet David Sedaris who talked to her while autographing two books (click on her name to read all about it)!

The new municipal councillor - Guy...

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A Love Letter, Teenage Talent, and a Zombie Baby…

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon…Jim and the kids have gone to buy tires for the Corolla and have lunch at my least favourite fast food restaurant (I’ll give you a hint – its spokesperson is a clown with a rhyming name).  I wish they had taken Jake with them…he’s driving me crazy…wants to go out on the deck and chase the chipmunks and squirrels!  I’ve got a Hannah Georgas concert playing on the computer while I work (thank you CBC Concerts on Demand).  The second of three loads of laundry is spinning in the dryer…I’m saving a fortune on dryer sheets!  I bought a couple of those dryer balls at the dollar store, and they actually work!

One of the best dollars I ever spent...dryer balls!

The ear, nose and throat specialist called on Monday with the date for Jim’s sinus surgery: November 10th.  He’s having his deviated septum fixed, and they’re scooping stuff out of his sinus cavity.  I’m glad we’ve finally got the date: Jim’s been off work most of the week with another sinus infection…he regaled me this morning with a description of the secretions he’s harbouring.  Thanks, honey…I really didn’t want to eat lunch today!

Tuesday night was Dad’s chorus rehearsal night, and I was looking for something easy to make for supper…I had gotten turkey bacon on sale the day before, and had bagels in the fridge.  I cooked the bacon, sliced and toasted the bagels, spread them with peanut butter (both sides), put a couple of slices of bacon on, and top them with the other bagel slice.  Jim refuses to eat them (he ate his leftover jambalaya, which was good, but my wimpy intestine did not agree).  However, the girls and I love my bagel/bacon sandwiches!  Try it…you’ll like it!

On Wednesday, I wandered uptown to get some money from the banking machine…I saw one of my male friends pushing his daughter down the sidewalk in her umbrella stroller.  He was doing the “Daddy Push” as I call it…you know the one: one hand on the handle, walking beside it like, “This kid isn’t really mine.  I was just walking down the street and my hand caught on this stroller handle…”  In my head, I know it’s because umbrella strollers are poorly designed for tall people, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more to it when I see a man pushing a stroller that way…like it’s not cool to be a dad or something!

As many of you know, Thursday was the one-week anniversary of my blog being “Freshly Pressed” for the second time.  I had what I thought was an amazing idea…why not do a funny piece about the roller coaster ride that being FP’d is?  Unfortunately, my regular readers thought I was upset, and went about trying to console me!  So, here is a love letter to all my “peeps”:

Dear Fans of Herding Cats (you know who you are):

I would just like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to visit  Hammond River and the ramblings of my brain.  Your compliments and encouragement (and even your criticisms!) are always much appreciated!  I have been fortunate to be in the company of some truly talented writers, all of whom I consider friends, even though we’ve never met (please take the time to check them out on my Blogroll – He Said/She Said).  To my family and “touchable” friends, I love that you care about me enough to read what I write – it means a lot!

I will continue to write Herding Cats in Hammond River as long as we’re both enjoying it!  Thanks again!

Love,

Wendy

P.S. Really…I’m FINE (and I wasn’t “harbouring small rodents in my eyebrows”)! WM      

Last night, Hope and her friend, Gabrielle, were signed up to participate in an Open Mic Night for kids aged 8 to 15.  Jim, Anna and I went to the Coffee Mill in Lancaster Mall for supper before the show (Hope was at Gabrielle’s and would meet us at the show).  Their average customer keeps his teeth in a glass beside the bed and gets a pension cheque once a month, so we missed the rush by arriving at 5:20.   They make the best Philly Cheese Steak sandwich at the Coffee Mill, and their fries are awesome too!  Jim had the roast turkey dinner, and Anna went for the chicken burger platter and chocolate milkshake.  Yummy! 

We got to the venue for the show, paid our $5 admission and took a seat in a large room where about a dozen teenage boys seemed to be making preparations for the show.  Jim and Anna got their cameras out…Jim was taking still shots, and Anna was doing a video of Hope’s performance.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 6:50 (20 minutes after the show was supposed to start), the director came to the microphone and introduced the first act: a kid about 12 who played a trumpet solo…not bad! 

Then the director called Hope and Gabrielle onstage.  We chatted amongst ourselves while technical difficulties with Hope’s CD were being sorted out.  No luck!  It was decided to bring up another act and try again later.  An 11-year-old came up and told an improvised story which only he and his relatives found amusing…please sit down, you obnoxious child! (I thought – I don’t think I said it out loud).  Then, Take 2 of the Hope and Gabrielle duet of “Bulletproof” by La Roux.  The informal tech crew was able to get the CD to play on some kid’s laptop.  The girls did a good job, although Hope kept glancing nervously around behind her at the laptop…her fears were realized when the CD crapped out in the middle of the song.  The girls stopped singing, we applauded, and the show went on.

Gabrielle and Hope in their "Bulletproof" vests...

After a performance by two cute 8-year-old girls who played violin, and then sang a Taylor Swift song badly, the next act came on: A trio of teenagers called All About Appearance.  The lead singer was a Justin Bieber lookalike who could sing and play guitar.  His sidekicks were a male guitarist, and a female drummer.  They were good, and sang three songs.  After that, the show went downhill.  We stuck around hoping it would get better…it didn’t!  Two brothers tortured us with an “experimental” techno song played on a synthesizer keyboard…it lasted an interminable six minutes  (it was at that point that my dad decided he’d had enough, and made for the door). 

The next band was four young teenage boys who were enthusiastic, and could play their instruments, but the lead singer couldn’t sing, and the other guitar player left the stage every two minutes to throw up (the lead singer felt the need to tell us that).  After four deafening “songs” punctuated with heavy drumming, we made our escape!  I’ve always frowned on parents leaving a show right after their child had performed, but I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I might lose my mind!  I’m all for encouraging young talent, but I believe that some organization and some minimum standards for shows are necessary!

We dropped Hope off at her friend’s sleepover/birthday party on the way home…better late than never!

When we got home, I opened up Facebook to find that my daughter Kaylee’s profile picture had changed:

Zombie Baby...yikes!

I was not amused that someone with far too much time on her hands had turned my sweet “Puddin Pop” into a zombie baby…

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