Christmas Countdown — Day 2

by Kathy Larson

Okay, so today I watched two Christmasy/holiday shows.

  1. The Holiday Baking Championship — I actually started watching this about a month ago. It’s a ton of fun. Jesse, the hunky host, who is actually a former NFL player, does a great job leading the show, introducing the day’s challenges, as well as adding some gentle humour. Today’s show saw the contestants get whittled down to six.
    I’m always amazed at what these bakers can whip up in the allotted hour to ninety minutes they’re given. Sometimes the ingredients are more than a little bizzare. Like the time they had to make a holiday dessert based on an ingredient from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Sage? Balsamic vinegar? Sausage? In the end they all presented some pretty astounding, and according to the judges, delicious desserts.
    This is a fun way to while away some COVID hours and get a little inspired to try some holiday baking. Check it out.
  2. Die Hard — Now some may argue that this is not a holiday movie, but I am firmly rooted in the camp that believes it is. It takes place on Christmas Eve, in New York (no city in the world dresses itself up better for the holidays than New York!), there is Christmas music playing during much of the movie, and who can dispute that Alan Rickman is the grinchiest Grinch that ever was?
    This movie is a classic. Originally released in 1988, it has stood up well and I had as much fun watching it this time (probably my twelfth, though I can’t honestly say for sure) as I did the first time. You can’t help but cheer for John McLean and I can barely watch without flinching every time he pulls all that broken glass out of his poor, battered bare feet.
    If you have been living under a rock and never seen the film (the best one, imho) then do yourself a favour and grab a bowl of popcorn, a pillow to grab on to and enjoy a fun, fun, fun ride.

    Well, that’s what I watched today. Hope this gives you some ideas for your own quarantine-until-Christmas television watching.

    Ho!Ho!Ho!
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Day 3 — the purge continues

20180103_204556Every time I write the word purge I laugh a little. It reminds me of the terrible The Purge movie we watched a few years ago. It was worse than dreadful — it was violent and boring. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Now, of course, there are sequels. Go figure.

The word purge is an ugly word. It sounds ugly when you say it; it’s ugly when written. Even the meaning is ugly.

Purge (noun)

:an act of removing by cleansing; ridding of sediment or other undesired elements
:the act of clearing yourself (or another) from some stigma or charge
:rinse, clean, or empty with a liquid – purge the old gas tank
:eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth – He purged continuously
:make pure or free from sin or guilt
:an abrupt or sudden removal of a person or group from an organisation or place – he died in a purge by Stalin
:clear of a charge
:excrete or evacuate (someone’s bowels or body) – The doctor decided that the patient must be purged
:oust politically – Deng Xiao Ping was purged several times throughout his lifetime
:rid of impurities – purge the water – purge your mind
But my intent to purge my life of unnecessary things is not ugly. It is liberating. Like some forms of purging listed above, it is actually a good thing.
Today I rid myself of magazines. I have hung on to these magazines for ages. Some of them were from the early 1990s. I kept some of them in the bathroom in case someone needed reading material. I, personally, wouldn’t touch them. And as far as I know neither did anyone else. They were dusty, wrinkled from constantly being steamed from the shower, and out of date.
Dr. Oz’s advice on how to stock your refrigerator so you’ll lose weight is only good for one reading as far as I’m concerned. When I picked up the women-only fitness magazine and leafed through it I thought for one brief moment that I should try some of the workouts, but then I remembered that I went for a walk this morning. That’s good enough at my age.
It’s not like I ever want to wear a bikini again — no, a nice high-waisted tankini with tummy control, waist minimizer and boob support is my style these days. Something I can walk around the resort, beach, deck in with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other. My pretty-young-thing days are all behind me and I’m happy.
I also got rid of Christmas and holiday magazines. I had been clinging to these as though they were precious artefacts. These magazines represented the romanticized versions of the holidays that I always tried to create. I made a few of the crafts, tried out recipes, and read inspirational stories of stranger’s special holiday memories. So many times I felt dissatisfied after the holidays were over because they had not lived up to the expectations I’d borrowed from the glitzy pages of those magazines.
This year I wasn’t home for Thanksgiving; I spent it with my parents and some of my siblings. I didn’t have to do a thing. It was my dad’s last turkey dinner and I felt blessed just to be able to be there and share that moment.
Christmastime, I was home, but because I spend half my time living in Fort McMurray where my husband works I didn’t decorate or put up a tree this year. I said I didn’t have time. Honestly, I just didn’t feel like decorating.
I didn’t go through my usual routine of replacing my dishes with Christmas ones, putting out Christmas linens or stringing garlands all over the place. The Dickens’ village didn’t get set up and didn’t have Christmas blankets and teddies strewn all over.
We spent Christmas morning at my son’s house and enjoyed all the festive decorating my daughter in law does. Their tree was lovely. We opened presents, we had our traditional eggs-benny breakfast and then my husband and I went home. None of it was inspired by a picture or article from a magazine. It was genuine, it was memorable and it made me happy.
When I saw all those magazines today it occurred to me that they are meaningless. Holidays are not about how your house looks, or how your table is dressed. It’s not about decorating advice from the pros or how to host the best Thanksgiving dinner – EVER! It’s about family, creating memories and sharing love and laughter, tears and joy.
I didn’t even break a sweat as I carried all those magazines down to the recycle bin.

July 4th – July 17th

Day 186 – 199 — Wowza!  199 days blogged about.  NOT — to clarify — 199 blogs, but 199 days recounted in my blog.

I’ve been busy with summer and holidays, hence the break in writing.  I left on July 7th to go have a little mini-holiday with two of my sisters.  We went to my one sister, Lori, and her husband’s cottage in Northern Ontario.  Near Kenora.  I may have written about it in the past.  It’s a lovely place.  We spent the better part of a week just sitting on the dock, drinking various cocktails and beers, playing Scrabble, and jumping in the lake when it got too hot.  I am proud to say I got a tan.  Some have even said:  “you look great — all tanned and relaxed” so that made me feel pretty darned good.

Prior to leaving for my little holiday I had spent time trying to get my house in order.  Cleaning, gardening, making sure the bills were paid, etc.  Boring, but necessary stuff.

I had high hopes that Tim would have the pergola finished when I got back, but alas, it was not to be.  He has got the main beams up, so now I’m just praying that he gets it done before the end of summer.  If we have a nice autumn I’ll still be able to enjoy it for a bit.  In Tim’s defence, I have to say that it rained a lot the week I was gone.  It rained only once while I was at the lake, and only for a little it one afternoon.  And it was warm rain.  Not like the cold rains of Alberta, at all.

When I arrived in Calgary Monday night for my connecting flight I was very disheartened when the pilot came on to tell us that the temp was 15 degrees.  I nearly gasped.  For the past week I had been enjoying temps in the high 20’s and low 30’s.  Talk about a shock.  Still, when I stepped off the plane in Edmonton, where it was a wonderful 2 degrees warmer, it felt good to be home.

As much as I always dream of getting away, I’m always grateful and happy to get back home.

With so much of summer still stretched out before me I’ve got lots of plans and lots to do.  I’m going to make the most of every moment and be joyful in the moment.

A few shots of my sister’s place in Ontario:

June 27th

Day 179 — Day one of the holidays — and it was lovely.  Got up went for a nice long walk along a different path.  Not the usual 30 minute circuit Heather and I usually navigate when I’m working.  The air was warm, even though we’d had a helluva storm last night.  Lots of thunder and lightning, and, of course, rain.  But, other than a couple of slight showers that was supposed to be the end of the 40 days and 40 nights we’ve been enduring.

I did a lot of little things today — made pineapple marmalade, tidied the house, took care of small chores I’ve been putting off since forever.  I even found time to read my book outside on the deck a couple of times.  (In case you hadn’t figured it out, my deck is my favorite place to be in the summer time.)

For dinner I made crab cakes and salad with asparagus on the side.  Of course, I ate it outside.  Then I finished off a nice little glass of white zinfandel and read a few more pages of my book before going back out into the garden.

I love not working!

June 24th

Day 176 — Well the first of the last 3 days of work before my holidays begin is done.  Two more to go.  Here’s hoping they go by quickly.

I managed to get out for that evening walk I’ve been talking about.  Went out for about an hour.  I forgot how much I enjoy that time to myself.  Time to think, to ponder, to work things out.  And then there was the getting reacquainted with the rythyms of my body as I walked along.  The ebb and flow of air in my lungs, the surge of my leg and torso muscles as they contracted and elongated with my steps and the swing of my arms.  It’s a pattern of motion that is so conducive to calm and constructive thought.  I am definitely going to get back into the habit.

The sound of silence. . .

. . . I am alone today.  For the first time in over 3 weeks.  It is a wonderful feeling.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the company I’ve kept over that time — most certainly not.  But now that the house is mine and mine alone again I am fully enjoying it.

Although. . .

. . . my house is a bloody mess.  But in a good way.  It’s the mess my three grandchildren have left in their wake.  And this morning as I wove my way through a maze of toys and crayons and dress-up clothes and rocks and crafts and towels and. . . I smiled as I thought about how much fun we had.  It’s going to take a day (or two) to get the house back to the way I normally keep it, but that’s okay.  I’ve got time.

I am now going to make the most of the rest of my holidays to relax and go at a leisurely pace.  There are still chores to be done, but I’ll poke away at them without being stressed.  I want to gut the kids’ room yet and repaint, but I think that will be a project for the Fall now.

What’s most important is Tim finishing the deck.  He’s been doing all the work himself — and it’s a big job.  Especially in the heat we’ve been having.  I worry sometimes about him overdoing it and nag him to quit and come inside for a break.  He hates taking breaks, says it’s harder to get back to work when he does, but I’m persistent.

Right now things are stalled because he had to return to work a couple of days early.  So, the ledger boards, which are giving him a major headache are just laying out there, unattached.  I am trying not to despair. I know he’ll get it done.  My husband is nothing if not stubborn and he’ll do it all without help.  Pride.  The cause of all my worry.

Well, I shouldn’t say he didn’t have any help.  The kids all tried to pitch in and give Grandpa a hand from time to time.  Here’s a picture of them helping screw together a support beam:

They were actually tapping in the screws which was quite a production!  Tim let them hold the drill afterwards, but they didn’t much care for the noise and vibration.

We had such a blast having them here for a week.  Went to the outdoor pool in Redwater three times — absolutely enjoyed that.  We can’t very well go there without any kids in tow — would look like a couple of old creepers!  So, now we’ll have to content ourselves with evening trips to the indoor pool in St. Albert.  Sigh.

I wish I had taken Landon to the pool in Redwater when he was younger.  He would have enjoyed it.  But, when they move here, finally, he and Jenn will be able to take the kids.  It’s a great place, not too crowded and very clean.  Run by a great bunch of young people.  I truly will miss going there with the kids.

A couple of pics of the kids at the pool:

And now, I must go get started getting back to my ‘real’ life.

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A month of my holidays is nearly done.  But I can’t sigh about it.  No, I’ve been having a wonderful time.  And, I’m looking forward to the next four weeks with a happy heart.

Am I looking forward to going back to work?  No way!  But, unless I win that fabled lottery, that’s where I’ll be heading.  And, it will be okay, because I’ve had such a great summer.

I managed to get the basement bedroom painted and redecorated before my parents arrived — which was a big job.  I decided to cover the ceiling with wallpaper — a pretty idea, but a bit of a trial.  I scraped stucco, I washed until I thought I was going to wash all the paint off and then I re-painted.  Patched and painted.  In the end, I was very pleased with my (and Tim’s) efforts.  I learned how to install a light fixture (got a shock for my efforts — nothing I ever want to repeat), and learned how to install baseboards and trim.  I have now decided I need to go out and buy my own set of tools to handle small repair jobs around the house.

Why have I waited until I’m 54 to do this?  The mind boggles.

But, anyway.  On with my wonderful summer.  I have read three books!  Three!  Sitting outside on my deck in the sunshine.  It has been totally wonderful to do that.  Some of that time was spent in the company of my mother.  The two of us, noses in books just sitting there enjoying the pages and the warmth.  Lovely.

We took my parents up to the mountains for a few days.  Stayed in Canmore at the gorgeous Lodges at Canmore.  Very comfortable condo-style accommodations with a full kitchen, two bedrooms and baths, a balcony with a bbq.  Was nice to be able to get up and have coffee without having to run out to a restaurant.

We spent a day just taking Mom and Dad around sight-seeing.  We went up to Lake Minnewanka with the idea of going out for a boat tour, but it was ridiculously expensive and Mom didn’t really relish the idea of being on a boat anyway, so we opted to take a short walk along the shoreline.  Dad, Tim and I walked to the lower falls at Johnson’s Canyon, a spectacular walk along a board walk built alongside the mountain wall.  We got some pretty shots of the water rocketing its way through the canyon.

We also went up to Banff Hot Springs and had a soak.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t very crowded.  I think the water had a wonderfully soothing effect on my Mom’s knee, which she recently had replaced.  Because of the knee she wasn’t able to do as much walking as I had planned for us, but we still got to see a lot and had a wonderful time together.

I tend to forget sometimes that my parents are in their seventies.  I think of them still as being able to do anything.  The truth is they can’t, and this trip showed me that.  Dad’s hair is white, Mom’s is salt and pepper.  They tire quickly and take lots of little naps.  They’re content to sit and read, or do crossword puzzles or watch the Jays on tv.  There’s no more go, go, go.

Dad still goes out for a walk everyday — he still has some reserves of boundless energy — he just has to pace himself in spending them.  He took my bike out for a ride one day and also went golfing by himself.  Mom, on the other had is quite happy being sedate.  In all, my parents were out West for a few days over a month.  Two weeks with my sister and her family in Manitoba, then a week in Lloyd, then the rest of the time with Tim and I.

I was happy that they got to see their great-grandchildren for a couple of times.  Grandpa played harmonica with all the kids — the noisiest, most raucous, out-of-tune concert I’ve ever heard!  Whether there’ll ever be such an opportunity again, I don’t know.

This coming week I’m going to have my three darlings staying with me.  I have been looking forward to this 

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Spring when I hatched the idea.  Just to have them come and spend a week with us, hanging out, going to the beach, playing at the park, eating ice-cream.  They arrive this afternoon and I can hardly wait.

After they return home I’m going to spend some time just puttering around getting small maintenance-y things done before Fall arrives.  I am determined to have this house ready to go for the coming winter.  Tim will be working hard to finish part 2 our deck, which will be nice.  No more dirt, weeds or ants to contend with.

At the end of August we’ll be heading to Toronto to see Bruce Springsteen and his Wrecking Ball Tour.  I am so excited about that!  I love the Boss — can, and have, listened to his music all day.  I own darn near every album he’s ever made and I marvel at the man’s talent, musicality and social awareness.  He is a modern-day troubadour of the highest caliber.

I have been trying to put together a list of songs I hope to hear him play when we’re in TO, but when I checked out the set-list I haven’t seen any of them on it.  There are SO MANY songs I’d want to hear him play — maybe if I had a private concert?  Oh, one can dream!

Well, friends, that’s my blog for today.  Just a rundown of my happy summer.  Hope yours has been as wonderful.

Saturday night

I’m sitting here on a balmy Saturday night watching Forrest Gump.  I love this movie, but I’ve only watched it once.  Now that I’ve got the time and I’m feeling leisurely, I think I’ll just indulge myself and stay up and watch it. “Run, Forrest, run!”

My first week of holidays has been pretty good.  I haven’t worked too terribly hard, though I have made myself a pretty extensive to-do list.  I’ve even managed to accomplish a fair number of small tasks.  I’ve gone and got the paint and tomorrow hope to get started painting the spare bedroom in my basement.  I’m trying not to stress out about what I’m not getting done, and instead celebrate what I do manage to complete.

We’re set to have some blazing hot temps over the next few days — up into the 30’s.  Can’t wait.  I love the heat — and because we only get a handful of really hot days, I fully intend to enjoy them as much as possible.

And while we’re on the topic of heat, what goes better with heat than an ice-cold beer?  So, sitting out on my deck with a cool one in the hottest part of the day is my carrot on a stick.  I decided to try the new Coors Lite, Iced T — it was a bit of a disappointment.  So, today, I decided that seeing as how I’ve still got 5 bottles of it, I had better figure out a way to make it more palatable.  I filled a glass half way full of ice, added a couple of slices of lemon and poured the beer over it.  Well, it was delicious.

I’m at the part in the movie where Forrest saves the men in his platoon while they’re in Vietnam.  Generally, I avoid any kind of war movie, but this is a small piece of the story, albeit a very important part.   “Lieutentant Dan, I got you some ice-cream.”  I just love this movie.

We went for a little ride on the bike today and took in the St. Albert Farmer’s market.  Was wonderful.  Bought a lovely cabbage, some beets and carrots, fresh young onions and new potatoes.  Tomorrow it’s going to be a lovely coleslaw for supper, and new potatoes grilled on the bbq.  Not sure what kind of meat I’m going to serve, and, truthfully, I don’t care.  This time of the year it’s all about the veggies.

 

Thursday, July 5th

It’s my Dad’s birthday today.  He’s in Manitoba with my sister at their cabin so I won’t be able to call and wish him a happy day, but I’m pretty sure he’ll have a good one.

Just a quick post about a couple of things:

1.  Fifty Shades of Grey — holy crap!  read it in one day.  Not fine literature by any stretch of the imagination, but a pretty good story.  And yes, there is lots of kinky, explicit sex (which I thought I was a little above reading, but turns out I’m not) but the sex isn’t really what drives the story or keeps you hooked.  It’s the INTENSITY of the relationship between Anastasia (who is a bit confusing between her simpering and her self-advocacy)  and Christian (who talks a bit like a stuffy old English lord most of the time, but even this didn’t turn me off)  that really hooks the reader.  Can’t wait to get my hands on the other two books.  These are fantastic summer reads.

2.  I am loving not having to get up and go to work!  Yay for the summer!  Spent a wonderful Canada Day weekend with my grandkids.  We had fun, fun, fun.  They each took home a bouquet of flowers from my garden — Gramma, can we pick one of these ones? — made me smile that they enjoyed the flowers.  I’ve got a list of things to do an arm’s length long, and I’m just going to pick away at things until they’re done.  Not pushing myself, just trying to savour the time.

3.  I just re-signed my contract with Enmax for electricity and gas.  In the five years I’ve been on contract the charge for electricity has only gone up 1 cent!  Amazing!  However, it’s the g-d delivery and distribution costs that really piss me off.  Generally, they are more than the cost of the electricity.  When is the government going to do something about that?  (Everyone asks that, but nothing ever gets done.)  So, I’m set for another 5 years — one more thing crossed off my to-do list.

Hope everyone is enjoying their day!