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Archive for May, 2011

Our annual spring fling of cottage projects is finally done, and we are ready for the rental season.

Out in the garden, Cottager spruced up some naked plywood panels around the back gate with lattice, giving the clematis more traction. The clematis is now in its third year, and I read somewhere that the traditional pattern for a happy vine is that it will ‘sleep’ the first year, then ‘creep’ the second year and, finally, ‘leap’ the third year.  It shows every sign of preparing for a leap.  With the dog door covered up, fresh gravel, and a new Angel Trumpet plant (big blue tub) in residence, this area outside the kitchen where the barbecue is located is looking terrific.

Grilling area tidied up

Shade-loving annuals have been planted in shady corners and in the pocket-sized ‘zen garden’ and I choose patio tomatoes for the sunniest spot this year, since last summer’s climbing varieties overwhelmed their supports. 

Torrenia find a happy spot in a shady corner.
Lobelia and wild geranium in the ‘zen’ garden
Patio tomatoes in the sunniest spot of all.

Once the watering system was tested and adjusted to reach every corner of the garden, there was nothing left to do, but share a cold beer on the porch and then drive away, leaving everything in lovely condition for the summer guests who began to arrive the following day.  

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We were out for dinner at our friends’ Gillian and Dave’s place recently. Gillian loves to cook and she is really good at it. Makes it look effortless, in fact. 

She was professionally trained, many years ago, and delights in hosting dinner parties where she brings together family and friends in interesting combinations for truly memorable meals.  Then she posts her recipes, along with mouth-watering photos on her blog What’s For Dinner.  

Join Gillian in her kitchen and be inspired.

When Gillian isn’t in her kitchen being inventive, she is often travelling in interesting places, sampling the food there and posting photos and reviews. Back at home, she reproduces the best of the meals she experienced while abroad. The result is a really entertaining and useful resource for anyone who likes to cook – or has to do it regardless. 

On this particular evening, Gillian was preparing a New Orleans-style meal in response to a Daring Cooks Challenge from another food blogger: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, black-eyed peas, rice and a lovely salad. It all came together beautifully, as usual, and the conversation around the table was lively and fun.

Dessert was beignets – a New Orleans style doughnut. I snuck into the kitchen to watch the squares of yeast dough puff up and turn brown in the oil, and was enlisted as the the official powdered sugar roller. 

They were so good!  You know when you read a Peter Mayle novel and he describes a meal bite by bite and dish by dish and each one is better than the last and the description is so detailed that your mouth waters and you wonder if food has ever tasted as good to you as it does to Peter Mayle?  Thanks to these beignets, I know that the answer is yes!

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This story is a tribute – of the half-assed emulation variety – to my favourite humour blog, Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven’t checked it out, you really should. Seriously.  I cry.

My story begins with my decision to finally abandon my Modern Amish life-style. I simply couldn’t juggle my work schedule, the organization of two homes, my growing vacation rental business, French lessons, family and social obligations and keep track of where my shift-working husband and busy teenagers were. Not without some help. I was fraught. 

I was fraught!

So fraught, that I felt as though I was covered in a million little sticky notes. 

I felt exactly like this.

So, I swallowed my pride, and went to the Telus store at the mall to get a new whiz-bang phone. And there a fellow named Rory – and yes, that is his real name because he needs to know – struggled to find the patience deep inside himself to deal with the Luddite sent to test him on that particular morning. I only understood about a quarter of what he said.

A few days later I went to CAYA (or Come As You Are) – the LGBT- friendly Telus store near my office in downtown Vancouver. Luckily, I didn’t have to give a secret handshake or anything. I really could come as I was. Sarah was super patient with me.

The hiccup was that my Littlest Urchin (Lu) also needed a phone, and I thought our best deal would be made if I dragged him into a wealth-sucking three-year plan at the same time that I super-sized my own financial obligation.

So, after using the CAYA folk shamelessly to educate myself on my options, I went back to the mall in the ‘burbs with Lu to make our deal.  And that’s when it happened.  While I was going over the details one last time, Rory pulled out his own phone.

Rory pulls it out

So how’d I do, Hyperbole and a Half?  Did I accurately depict the amazument I felt when Rory the client service representative turned away from me – the client – and gave the gift of his attention to his phone?  Was it an urgent text regarding a catastrophic event or was he . . . he was…. it appeared he was checking Facebook!  He was appsturbating right in front of me!

 What I wanted to say – only I was too gobsmacked – was

“Are you fricking kidding me, Rory?”

Eventually, Rory noticed that I had fallen silent, and he put his phone away. Lu and I left. I went back to the CAYA store where Sarah set me up with an iphone, a Blackberry for Lu, and an Android for the Cottager – Take That Rory!

At CAYA they didn’t know anything about the 79$ mandatory Apple Care plan that was ‘packaged up’ with the ‘free’ iphone Rory was going to sell me, so unfortunately, I had to keep that money. They insisted I accept a free charge mat and a photo finishing bonus of one thousand prints a year for the three years of my contract, too.

 And a final bonus is that a new word is born. I predict this word will be my 15 minutes of fame. My last great word – ‘KLIG’ for Kind of Laughing I Guess – was meant to rout the overstated and sadly overused LOL, but for reasons I will never understand, it did not catch on.

But Appsturbate… now there is a word. I’ve launched it when phones came out at the table during dinner parties on two successive weekends.  It’s effect was immediate. Revolutionary. Time will tell if I become a dinner guest much admired for my wit, or a social outcast known for my inappropriate social behaviour.  

And while I wait to find out, I embark upon a new struggle between my fundamental belief in the basic goodness of old fashioned human interaction and my glee in discovering little gadgets that enable me to indulge my compulsive urge to list things, track what I’ve eaten, and launch sheep.  After all, appsturbation is a perfectly natural thing.

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