Friday, 9 November 2018

Settling in for winter

The bottled tomatoes and grape juice are on the shelf. The garden produce is blanched and frozen or dehydrated. The dry beans are in their mason jars. The patio furniture is secured in the shed, and the netting is over the pool cover to catch the last of the autumn leaves. The garlic is planted (well, doing the last of it today). I'm stocked up on cocoa, and I'm recording Hallmark Christmas movies on TV. Just need to bring in a stack of books and I'm set for the season!

My husband's grandmother used to do lots of Christmas baking, and before she died I spent a day with her in the kitchen, learning all the traditional family recipes. After her passing, I took over the Christmas baking, putting together boxes of goodies for every family. When that became too expensive, I started just providing the goodies at the Christmas dinner we hosted each year. But over time, people trickled off and stopped attending -- age, weather, distance all take their toll. So the tradition sort of stalled.

This year I've decided to go back to doing the goodie boxes again. I may not be able to deliver to every family, because we've become somewhat far-flung, but I look forward to doing what I can this year. Butter tarts, lemon tarts, chocolate no-bake cookies, shortbread, date snowballs, tablet... I've taken three days off work to do it, and it will likely take up two months' worth of grocery money. But somehow I just can't let the tradition die, or the recipes fade away. Tradition is such an integral part of holidays and families, and you really can't think hygge without thinking food.


Monday, 29 October 2018

Anticipation and Dopamine

I'm reading a book right now that says the anticipation of pleasure or something good raises your dopamine, and you can literally become addicted to that anticipation. Sometimes the anticipation gives you more pleasure than the actual object of your desire, which can't live up to your high expectations.

It's an interesting thought. I have spent so much time thinking about the future, the home I want to someday have, retirement to a farm, what my life will be like when/if I attain that goal... I have derived an awful lot of pleasure from daydreaming about "someday." I've renovated and furnished my future dream home in my imagination, down to the smallest detail. And I'm sure the pleasure I've gotten from thinking about it and planning for it is probably more than the pleasure I'll feel actually attaining it. In which case, my husband will argue, why do it at all? It's certainly cheaper to plan and daydream than to actually do. A lot less work, too! If I'm getting the same or more dopamine from just thinking about it, there's really no motivation to accomplish the thing itself.

Must ponder this some more. It would certainly be fewer calories to just anticipate the egg nog than to actually drink it. But does it provide the same joy? And if the body can be triggered into producing dopamine just by thinking about egg nog, can it also be triggered into gaining weight if I imagine drinking the egg nog? That would be a bummer.

On the other hand, maybe I can think myself thin... If I imagine myself jogging...

Sunday, 28 October 2018

First Snow

Yesterday's rain started turning slushy around mid-afternoon, and this morning there is a dusting of wet white on everything. Fortunately the garlic is planted, the lawn has been mown for the last time, the catalpa trees have been beheaded, I've bought a coat, and we're pretty much ready for winter. The change in weather has caught the trees off guard, though---the leaves haven't fallen yet, and I can picture them scurrying to their rooms, calling "Hang on a sec!" because their date has arrived at the house early and they haven't had a chance to change yet.

Winter is a mixed bag for me. I love the cozy feel of dark evenings and the furnace running and curling up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and hot chocolate to watch soggy Hallmark Christmas movies. Then again, I hate slogging off to work bundled in layers in the dark and wet and cold. I don't like driving in snow and ice. But I love puttering with my little salad greens growing under grow-lights on the counter. I love the pinging sound of ice pellets hitting the window. I am not such a fan of them pinging off my face. I want to try dog sledding. I want to hibernate and not move until June. I want to attack the stack of Louise Penny mysteries I look forward to re-reading. I anticipate chili and beef stew and egg nog. I miss my garden already.

So you see the dilemma. It's a good thing the seasons shift so often here, because I'm never content with one for long. This year I want to try to settle in better, keep up with my yoga and meditation, and keep the depression away. Not get after myself for not accomplishing much. Be content with my knitting and needlepoint. Try not to daydream of summer and sunshine so much. It's only the contrast that saddens us, you know. If you don't want to feel the cold, just be cold. It's only wishing you were warm that makes you so aware of the cold.

Oh, and I need to finish that stupid manuscript I still haven't turned in. Wow, why is that always the last thing I think of on my to-do list?

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Juicing the Grapes

Two bushels of Concords turned into 37 litres of juice, which will make 74 litres when the water's added to the concentrate. Loveliness!  I love harvest time.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Legalizing Cannabis

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada tomorrow. I am anxious and depressed, fearful for my family, and am already dreading encountering that skunk smell at every turn. It's bad enough having to deal with inconsiderate smokers at the bus stop or on the street. They seem to have no clue how their actions impact others. Now this to deal with. I have arranged to work at home for the next two days just to let the "dust settle" and not have to deal with it, because I know the pendulum is going to swing crazily the first little while until people realize it's not a great thing and find some sort of equilibrium. Yeah, I know all the arguments against prohibition and everything, and I know the government is hoping this will be a wonderful cash cow. But all I can see is the health risk, the vulnerability, the safety concerns, the shirking of responsibility, the idiocy. The loss of the potential of our youth.


Meanwhile, I'm seriously going to start looking for real estate far far into the northern bush, where I can live in a bubble away from humans. It's time.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Plummet in temperatures

Yesterday was sweltering at work, 27 celsius, and I wore a skirt with bare feet and sandals. As I came home, the air was fresh and cooling and autumn-feeling. Today it's gray and overcast and there's a cold breeze. And tomorrow they're saying it will be 8 celsius. Whew! That's a sudden shift. I'm suddenly aware of leaves on the ground, crisp under foot, and the urge to curl up in a blanket before a roaring fireplace.

Monday, 8 October 2018


For the past 14 years, I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read. Upon skimming back over the list, I discovered you can actually write a whole story just using the titles of some of these books:

Julie   (Marshall)
Bold Spirit   (Hunt)
The Outside Man   (Patterson)
The Love Talker   (Peters)
Listening Woman   (Hillerman)
Persuasion   (Austen)
The Sinner   (Gerritsen)
With Child   (King)
The Shunning   (Lewis)
Matilda’s Wedding   (Neels)
A Painted House   (Grisham)
Its Colours They are Fine   (Spence)
Playing House   (Pearson)
I am a Mother   (Johnson)
Cradle to Cradle   (McDonough & Braungart)
All Through the Night   (Clark)
Housekeeping   (Robinson)
Family – The Ties that Bind and Gag  (Bombeck)
At Wit’s End   (Bombeck)
It’s All Too Much   (Walsh)
Season of Storms   (Kearsley)
The Divide   (Evans)
The Judas Kiss   (Holt)
Everything is Illuminated   (Foer)
Enough Already!   (Walsh)
Before I Say Goodbye   (Clark)
The Silent Lady   (Cookson)
Breakup   (Stabenow)
Leaving Home   (Keillor)
The Empty House   (Pilcher)
Running West   (Houston)
Far and Away   (Massie)
A Land More Kind Than Home   (Wolfe)
High Lonesome   (L’Amour)
The Rescue   (Sparks)
Good News for a Change   (Suzuki & Dressel)
I’ll Never Marry a Farmer   (Hole)
Courting Kate   (Rich)
A Sudden Change of Heart   (Bradford)
Where the Heart Leads   (Evans MacCloud)
Farmer Takes a Wife   (Gould)
Replacing Dad   (Mickle)
A Family in the Making   (Froemke)
No Greater Love   (Mother Teresa)
The New Farm   (Preston)
A Life in the Country   (Hutchison)
Fresh Air   (Allen)
Tending the Earth   (Johnson)
The Perfect Summer   (Rice)
The Winds of Change   (Grimes)
A Turn for the Bad   (Connolly)
The Last Good Day   (Bowen)
The Homecoming   (Michaels)
Prodigal Summer   (Kingsolver)
The Party is Over   (Heinberg)
We are Still Married   (Keillor)
You Belong to Me   (Clark)
Not Buying It   (Levine)
Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman   (Buchan)
If I’d Killed Him when I Met Him   (McCrumb)
Unless   (Shields)
A Risk Worth Taking   (Pilcher)
The Things We Do for Love   (Hannah)
On a Hill Far Away   (Snyder)
Still of the Night   (McKinney)
With These Hands   (L’Amour)
Girl Waits with Gun   (Stewart)
A Cold Day for Murder   (Stabenow)
Dead in the Water   (Stabenow)
Buried in a Bog   (Connolly)
A Rule Against Murder   (Penny)
Dark Age Ahead   (Jacobs)
Traveling Light   (Lucado)
Alice in Exile   (Read)
Lost in the Barrens  (Mowat)
Roughing it in the Bush   (Moodie)
Seeking Peace   (Pipher)
High Latitudes   (Mowat)
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name   (Vida)
Secrets from the Past   (Bradford)
Sleuth   (Bowen)
Mr. Monk on Patrol   (Goldberg)
The Art of Detection   (King)
In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner   (George)
Footsteps in the Snow   (Dear Canada Series)
Prisoners of the North   (Berton)
No Shred of Evidence   (Todd)
Woman Without a Past   (Whitney)
Gallows Thief   (Cornwell)
Leaving Time   (Picoult)
The Convent   (Karnezis)
And Then There Were Nuns   (Christmas)
Seeking Sanctuary   (Fyfield)
The Kindness of Strangers   (Kittle)
The Help   (Stockett)
Nature’s Second Chance   (Apfelbaum)
Remembering the Bones   (Itani)
Private Demons   (Phenix)
The Confession   (Todd)
The Infinite Atonement   (Callister)
Hearing the Voice of the Lord   (Lund)
Believing Christ   (Robinson)
Raising Hope   (Willard)
Grace Works   (Millet)
Benediction   (Haruf)
Weep No More, My Lady   (Clark)
The Lost Art of Gratitude   (McCall Smith)
Longing for Home   (Eden)
The Long Way Home   (Pilcher)
Starting Over   (Pilcher)
The New Good Life   (Robbins)
Peace Like a River   (Enger)
Sweeter than all the World   (Wiebe)
Owls Well that Ends Well   (Andrews)