Category Archives: Food

No Holiday Excuse

Happy Thanksgiving.

Spent all day yesterday making: turkey (now little more than a carcass), brussels sprouts (roasted – none of that boiling like it’s a severed head, or anything), mashed potatoes (spaced and left the skin on), peas (ripped from the pod) and stuffing (for the stuffing).

Is that not an excuse for this truncated blog post? I think it isn’t.

After all:

turkey

brussels spouts

mashed potatoes

peas and stuffing.

 

Such a fine repast! Such a cultivated dinner, civilized, tame.

***

The preference of white meat over dark meat (and vice versa)? Perplexing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Food, Holiday

Bumper Crop

As it turns out, the one tomato plant I bought on a whim because it cost a dollar (even though it was wilted, mostly dead or dying and seemed to be more brown than green) was the plant of the garden this year, producing, shall we say, a rather bumper crop of produce:

IMG_9072

As for the rest, a confession: despite earlier enthusiasm, I eventually left the garden to fallow…though before it can do that I suppose it needs “to rot.”

It is. Rotting, I mean.

Nothing untoward or gross – just a slow decay indicative, really, of my failure to provide care or manage it.

To care, I mean.

The other tomato plants died in the ungodly heat and for lack of rain, and water (two very different things, as it turns out). Likewise, the jalapeños and other assorted peppers (bell, ghost, habanero) perished. The squash and the mystery plants, though mysteries no more, were ravaged by vermin (raccoons, skunks, squirrels and rabbits, we had them all this year).

It was more than enough to demoralize, to quit. To not to care, not anymore.

I can only blame myself. And the gods.

I realize. I was too ambitious. Next year will be another year, at least, to try.

But that, I also suppose, goes without saying.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Death, Food, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Won’t Amount to a Hill of These

My habit isn’t to eavesdrop on people, but I do at times catch snatches of conversations that are hard to keep to myself.

 

Yesterday, it was one about beans:

“I can’t eat so many things right now.”

“You want chicken wings? My mom can make chicken – ”

“No.”

“How about tacos?”

“With the kids? Too messy.”

“Oh.”

“You know. I can have chilli. She makes good chilli.”

“Okay! Chilli it is.”

“Problem is, I hate beans in my chilli. Can’t handle them. Especially now.”

“So we’ll ask her not to put them in.”

“Oh, please.”

“What?”

“Remember the time you mentioned you didn’t want beans and she served you a bowl of bean-less chilli and then she gave me mine and it was just full of beans? And I told her, again, that I can’t stomach beans in my chilli and she was like ‘Oh, you don’t like them?’”

“That was just a misunderstanding.”

“No it wasn’t. She hates me. She did it on purpose. Because she hates me.”

“She doesn’t – ”

“She’s crazy and she hates me.”

“Because…she puts beans in your chilli?”

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO ABOUT BEANS. You didn’t have any beans in your chilli.”

 

Shortly after, it was time for their appointment. I watched as they walked out of my life, presumably forever.

Memory and conviction are odd catalysts in conversation – where they will take you and where they don’t, and what that will do to the rest of your day.

It wasn’t about the beans.

It wasn’t ever about the beans.

 

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Filed under Communications, Family, Food, Relationships, THE FUTURE, THE PAST

Shamone (Part 2)

We had veered off the TransCanada highway ages ago, deciding instead to follow the backroads that lined the providence – a network of ragged capillaries that spread out and fed the small places that dotted the landscape.

(There’s more of them than you’d think, these places; places such as these.)

Places that could not rightly be said to compare to the big places elsewhere, but which offered a break from the monotony of the road, nonetheless.

Places whose existence by the wayside remained contingent on their ability to attract the curious, the eager and the weary, and to capture their attention for just long enough, for that crucial moment, or two.

Places whose particular claim to fame included tours of forsaken industry (mines, factories, mills), offerings of historic (or historical) points of interest (a fort, a trading post, the birthplace of some local notable, fictional or otherwise), and (my favourite) roadside attractions toting otherworldly monuments invoking hometown character or charm, standing resolutely in place and steadfastly against time. The quirky, the bizarre, the aberrant, unabashed, on full display, for all the world to see:

WITNESS! Bow Island’s orange-footed, sheriff-hatted, cartoon-faced statue of one “Pinto MacBean,” smile askance, holstered gun at the ready, gloved hand a great, keyhole-shaped oven mitt forever waving to passersby. Erected 1992 to signify “the importance of the dry edible bean industry to the area” (so says Pinto’s commemorative plaque).

 SEE! The World’s Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller. Purportedly the largest. I never verified (it’s not the kind of thing you verify). A nominal fee lets you climb the staircase embedded in this T-Rex’s fiberglass flesh so that you can peer out of her open mouth at people standing not all that far below (you can then, like Pinto, wave to them). Erected in 2000, she stands 25 meters tall and can fit up to 12 people in her mouth at a time.

 EXPERIENCE! The (slightly deranged) whimsy of the stuffed and mounted rodents at Torrington’s World Famous Gopher Hole Museum. The critters are plentiful, and are outfitted in cute little costumes as they engage in various hometown activities, like going to church, frequenting the local pool hall, or street brawling with animal rights activists. Admission also just a nominal fee away (two dollars, but that’s 2009 pricing). Established 1996.

 Witness! See! Experience! Between work, between school, between the responsibilities and expectations of everyday life, between us, we had all the time in the world to explore these places; places such as these where MJ had manifestly refused to materialize.

Now, though.

I found myself quietly singing along here and there as the pavement rolled on under the rusting carriage of Terry’s ancient Corolla, and there was nothing much else to do but stare up, into that enormous Alberta sky, out there, at clouds as big mountain ranges and a blue so intense it made you feel somehow flattered, and somewhat ashamed.

Stephen woke up with a start, then drifted off to sleep again. He kept doing that, never fully waking, not entirely sleeping. It got to be unnerving. “More MJ?” he asked. “Still MJ?” he breathed, then dozed.

Mae pulled back from the window and tilted her head towards the radio.

Terry drove.

No. Nothing much else to do at all but surrender to the vastness ahead and MJ’s omnipresence within, hovering over us, god-like, and with such measured indifference for all his omnipotence that always seemed to me prerequisite to being one amongst the gods.

The songs flowed, one after another as Terry flipped blithely from station to station, managing somehow to prompt no apparent break in the music, failing to rouse a voice from the ether to break the spell and confirm or deny what it was (whatever it was) that was happening.

The whole world has to answer right now, just to tell you once again,

Don’t want to see no blood, don’t be a macho man,

Cause we danced on the floor in the round,

Inside a killer thriller tonight,

A crescendo, Annie.

Celebrity, unleashed! MJ in all his glory, in all his incarnations, from Off The Wall (1979), to Bad (1987), to Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), and on to Invincible (2001).

Thriller (1982).

We should have known.

But since we were drifting anyway, and with no particular destination in mind as the towns blurred together and it became difficult to know for certain which name belonged to which place, which attraction meant what, and to whom, it was, admittedly, kind of nice to have something familiar along for the ride.

We found the Birds of Prey Sanctuary more than we discovered it. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3. Established 1982.

The clerks inside the gift shop were friendly and politely curious. Attentive in the way that clerks are when the arrival of patrons means a long-awaited reprieve from the dusting of pristine shelves and the wiping down of spotless countertops.

“Where you from?” one of them asked.

Terry and Mae and Stephen answered easily. “Ottawa,” they said. “Thunder Bay.” I hesitated, and then answered “Toronto” and then we watched as the clerks’ faces changed accordingly, as if something had fallen into place for them. I suppose they took that as their right. I guess, anyway, that it was at least their prerogative. This is such a big country.

It was by now late afternoon.

Did they not know about MJ?

“Toronto, eh?”

***

We stopped at a place not too far from the sanctuary for dinner. It was famous for its Italian-Canadian fare (that’s what the guy at the gas station said), but it was particularly prized for its gigantic pizza bread: great slabs of hot dough, the rough size and heft of a decorative pillow, leaden with shredded, multicoloured cheese and finished off with a spray of light green parsley not at all unlike the trimmings fired from the backend of a lawnmower.

(The description above, I assure you, does not do justice to the taste).

We settled in, ushered to a booth by an unnamed hostess. Someone looked up.

And there he was again.

Only this time a vision dancing in perfect synchronization with his sister, Janet, in the legendary Scream video, two figures effortlessly swaying, pop-locking and pivoting in zero gravity on a screen affixed to an unassuming corner of the dining room, close (but not too close) to the bathrooms.

“Look!”

The Incomparable Jacksons. The Immaculate MJ. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3.

“Here too!” exclaimed Terry, pointing, eyes no longer heavy-lidded.

Our server, a man with a shining forehead, thick arms and little patience, may have heard the urgency in Terry’s voice. We were, if memory serves, agog. Certainly, I was and Stephen too.

“Don’t you know?” barked the server, snapping us to attention. “You don’t know?” he added more gently when he realized he had it. “He died. Michael Jackson’s dead.” He eventually left us with our food, carefully arranging it before us on the heavy, water-stained table.

“Died?” echoed Mae. “Dead?” she said, tasting the words.

Despite everything, given everything he had been and done and had become, MJ had never done that, never been that before.

It shouldn’t have been possible: Michael Jackson was dead.

Pinto MacBean, however, remained.

Remains.

Annie are you okay? Will you tell us that you’re okay?

It should not have been possible: something of the permanence of life as we knew it had shifted under our feet and left us stumbling for purchase. As sudden as it was, therefore, absurd. It was more than enough.

It was time to go home.

Time to head back and, if possible, redeem ourselves.

“I’ll drive,” Terry said finally, attempting a laugh around a mouthful of bread.

 

END

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Change, Death, Food, Friends, Music, People, Places, Pop Culture, THE PAST, Travel

Nothing/Everything

The thing I won’t buy at the grocery store because it’s “too expensive” I’ll buy at the gas station because “whatever.”

I’ve largely forgotten how to do long division but actually wouldn’t mind a few remainders.

I doughnut care.

If it’s distasteful, chances are it’s also delicious.

(Can I do this in one hundred words or less?)

I like the pomp and appreciate the pageantry, but wonder sometimes about the spectacle.

Idle worship, and then I’m out.

(Eighteen words to go – no, thirteen)

I’d like to think I’m a good person. I’d like that very much.

Nothing’s funny; everything’s hilarious.

 

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Filed under Downtime, Food, Interruptions, Language, Words

Coffee Time (and again)

1. Wave of the Future

Shared coffee pots are oppressive! We are an interesting and imaginative group of people who deserve to have our many facets represented in our tastes. The office has therefore eliminated the old, antiquated and, frankly, oppressive coffee pot in the upstairs kitchenette, and has replaced it with a brand new, state-of-the-art single-serve KERUG KOFFEE MAKER.

You are. Most welcome.

2. BYOKK

As a part of our “coffee initiative” (as our beloved Doris has colourfully named it) please do note that employees are now free to supply and store their own koffee kups for use while at work. The sky’s the limit, though we do ask everyone to be mindful of nut allergies.

3. Tamp It Down

The environment as we know it is in peril! Thusly, we have decided to do away with the waste and excess of the single use – non-recyclable – koffee kups and have instead supplied the office with reusable, single-load receptacles for all your coffee needs. Gently pack desired grounds into the receptacle with a small spoon or forefinger and insert into the KERUG KOFFEE MAKER machine. It could not be simpler. Wash your hands before and after use.

4. Grounds for Dismissal

Coffee grounds everywhere! Littering the counter, clogging up the kitchenette sink, crushed into the carpet into ugly, suggestive stains. A most sad and lamentable state of affairs. The single-load receptacles have therefore been removed until further notice. For the time being, please purchase your coffee and related beverages before work or during break.

5. New is Old Again

Employees take note! Some of your coffee cups are non-recyclable. Please dispose of these in the garbage where they belong.

6. Debauch

Employees! We have noted there are a few of you are sneaking into the kitchenette at odd hours in order to make coffee though the unsanctioned use of the remaining (and offensive, and offending) koffee kups. Be advised: you are warned.

7. Bylaws

To avoid confusion, all coffee cups are to be thrown into the garbage as the city has twice now refused to collect our improperly-sorted recyclables. Extra bins have been provided in the downstairs kitchenette, next to the photocopier.

8. Purge: Anarchy

As forewarned, a purge of all remaining koffee kups has been carried out by Doris.

9. BE MINDFUL

A gentle reminder to all in our employ that while your coffee habits and choices are your own, we are reaching capacity in terms of weekly garbage disposal. Bins are filling up faster than usual. Consider, therefore, finishing your coffee before or after work or during breaks and disposing the cups in outside bins (i.e. the public trash bins located down the block or across the street at the nearby primary school).

10. Don’t Ask

Stop asking Doris. She doesn’t know.

10.5. Further Notice

The KERUG KOFFEE MAKER has been removed from the office until further notice.

Thank you.

 

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Filed under Communications, Food, Health, Work

Open Secrets, Vol. 8

– Cheese it (every time)!

– Actually, that is exactly who you care.

– Hot Take vs. Cold Open.

– Just bury it in the news cycle.

– The lesser of two evils is only the devil you know.

Kill it with: kindness, love, fire.

– Bad News vs. The Worst News.

– Few or not many makes little difference.

Hard times: ahead, behind us, now.

– Found Objects vs. Lost Causes.

– Butter makes it better; extra butter makes it extra butter.

– Mild Ambitions vs. Wild Aspirations.

– Your kids; my dog.

– Miserable Truths vs. Beautiful Lies.

Better to be: interesting(?), loved(?), present(?).

– Leader but not boss.

– Nice vs. Nice Enough.

– Skin deep is still just a little bit deep.

– Eat your cake, and have it too.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Children, Food, People, Philosophy

Plant Life of Varied Assorted Types

So far, in my garden, I have planted a tomato plant, a jalapeño plant, a butternut squash plant and two mystery plants I got from the store: they were not labelled, and I didn’t ask what they were because it didn’t seem to be anybody’s job to tell me.

The store isn’t one where you’d expect plants (to be there for sale), a varied assortment of which were plopped down by an unused register. The register seemed not to be being used so that a small collection of mystery plants (a varied assortment of which) could be plopped down by it.

Red price tags glared from the plants: $1.99 they flashed.

The mystery plants varied, from ones with board, squash-like leaves to ones with pointed bits and ends to ones that were little more than scraggily vines. Some looked edible, others did not, a few…who knew? Probably.

It wasn’t like it was anybody’s job to tell anyone else, including me. That’s how it is with plant life of varied assorted types sold in a store not specifically geared to selling plants.

What more can you possibly ask for?

I bought the plants with the board, squash-like leaves: 2 @ $1.99 (plus tax). They are very green, very strong, likely edible.

Feels like a bargain. Feels like the price of admission, willingly paid. How often does that happen?

The cashier placed the plants in a see-through plastic bag and gently handed them to me.

That, too, was not unexpected.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Food, Hobbies, Jobs, Plants

Direct Quotes, 2

Ophthalmologist Opinion: “There are more lopsided people than symmetrical.”

Direct From the Kitchen: “Such a meaty concoction!”

The Morning After: “Extra low we are today.”

Wardrobe Malfunction: “There are not enough butt pockets.”

Parenting Sage: “Newborns can’t make this smell.”

Back in the Day: “Also we used to say ‘brutal’ to mean ‘cool.’”

Ominous: “You’ll regret that choice when white comes into fashion again.”

True Compliment: “Omggg what a lil poot!”

 

 

 

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Filed under Body, Fashion, Food, Health, People, THE PAST, Words

Shop & Spent

Shopping is at best a confusing experience for me. I don’t like it. I don’t hate it.

But it gets to be overwhelming.

Something about having my behaviour come to back to me in such material form. Something about how much things cost, or don’t, or shouldn’t, and the way savings fluctuate so that they are good one day and terrible the next.

Sometimes my purchases confound me.

The time I just had to have an industrial-sized jar of roasted red peppers (which were eaten slowly, and then too fast). The rug that didn’t go anywhere. The time the cart was empty, save for a loaf of whole wheat bread and a bottle of Drano®.

You wouldn’t think that those two things would go together. You’d be right, of course.

The incontrovertibly of those items haunts me still.

The bread I needed; the Drano® must have been on sale.

I never even used it. Just left it untouched under the bathroom sink when we moved.

The rug? I could never get it to work. Yet, there it sits in my living room, insisting that it does, and is, and in the end who am I to say otherwise?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Food, Routines