Hello all! Today’s guest on What’s in My Cup is my beloved Eldest Son!
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.
He’s my red-headed, hairy lumberjack, and often my partner in adventure. We’ve battled to save the world together and geek out as much as possible. And my I could write a series of books describing how wonderful and sweet he is, and how very much I love, but you’re hear to read about tea instead! So please give a warm welcome to J!
Years ago, a longtime friend sent me a care package with a ton of goodies, including a collection of loose leaf tea.
Mom had just started getting into the obsession hobby, and being a coffee drinker, I didn’t even own an infuser.
So it sat.
We’ve cracked a few vials since then, on vacation and an occasional cup at home. Judging from what’s left, the “berry fruit tea” flavour is a favourite, though there’s a hibiscus & lemon vial that’s been tried too.
So what have I picked for this review? Computer…
Famous words from an idyllic future?
Full confession, I meant to do a review months ago and forgot, and my second go ’round was less flavourful than I remember, but we’re not sure if maybe I skimped on the tea leaves, or if it just aged on me.
So after a third and fourth attempt, we abandoned my batch of tea leaves and opened Mom’s packet. Mom’s tea was called Cream of Earl Grey by Puck.
The first sips reminded me of every other tea, but after a second, I noticed it is very flowery…so orange pekoe and flowers?
All told, it’s not bad, but probably not a “go-to”, but as Mom said, maybe ‘you’ve just never had a proper cup of Earl Grey tea’ before.
Happiness [is] only real when shared.
John Krakauer, Into the Wild
BTW: If you would like to share your favourite tea and tea mug on the last Monday of the month, please pass it on!
Dear Diary – This week we experienced our first heat wave of the summer. Temperatures soared into the mid-30s (celsius) and with humidity, felt like it was over 45! I was out briefly to water some plants and not a creature was stirring.It was too hot even to sit out in the shade with a book. I always worry about Eldest Son on super hot days because, not only is he working outside, his job is very physical and requires things like work boots and kevlar lined pants! On “Halo night”, our weekly online video game session, he confessed he felt like he needed a nap before he could drive home. But the car was too hot!
I sold some craft supplies on Facebook Marketplace and Youngest Son helped me put out the boxes for pickup. I forgot there were crayons in that box…
I love summer, and I prefer to be too hot over too cold. But that, that was bit much Mother Nature.
Dear Diary – We ordered pizza for Father’s Day from a respected chain, and it was the worst pizza I’ve ever had! Not only was it 50 minutes late, it was cold, dried out, and burnt. I called to complain when we hit the 1 hour-since-we-ordered mark, only to be put on hold by customer service. When she returned, she apologized. The store wasn’t answering the phone. I should have called to complain about the state of the pizza, but by that time, we were too hungry to care anymore.
Earlier in the week, I had surprised Hubby with California Sandwiches, a chain that closed in our area during covid. There just happened to be one at the plaza where I drove a friend to an appointment, so it was really a spur of the moment thing. The best part about these meatball sandwiches is they are the size of my head! I got 2 delicious meals out of mine, and Hubby…Hubby was…
Happy! Happy! Happy!
Dear Diary – Youngest Son is officially finished classes, but in lieu of exams, students were given a few days to complete outstanding assignments. Or that was the theory. Instead, a number of teachers have used the additional days to pile on more assignments.
Youngest Son is not impressed.
Dear Diary – I was watching a movie with Hubby and the young thing enters a room wearing only a lacy black bra and panties. Her skin is flawless; her stomach flat.
“I don’t think I ever looked like that?”, I said to Hubby.
“What,” says Hubby, “tall?”.
Dear Diary – This week I purchased a selfie stick, thinking it might be a useful tool for my taking photos for my business. Just the name “selfie” makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be like the majority of sheep people who are obsessed with posting fabulous pics of their fabulous face, enjoying their fabulous life.
“Look at me! I have fabulous eyebrows and a Starbucks iced coffee. I’m driving toward a speeding freight train and I know how to use the Disney Princess sparkle filter! Don’t I look adorbs?”
Some might say I’m jealous of fabulous eyebrows, or people who do look adorbs with the Disney Princess sparkle filter. I know how to use the Disney Princess sparkle filter; I just choose not to! And I’m not saying it’s wrong to post cute pics – I do it too. I want people do see that at almost 50, I still weigh as much as a Backstreet Boy. But I post one now and then, not 105…an hour…
I played with my selfie stick for about 10 minutes one afternoon, and I admit…it’s harder than you think. Now I can capture a lot more unflattering angles than I did just using my own stumpy arms.
Rather than taking a selfie, I used my stick to take a photo of some really cute chicks!
You thought I was going to post a selfie, didn’t you?
Dare to be a sprinkle doughnut in a world of plain bagels.
Dear Diary – Someone in my family asked me why I bring a travel mug of tea in the car to church, only to leave it in the car. Especially when I’m there early for rehearsal.
I had to patiently explain that this is the tea…that will get me to Tim Horton’s so I can buy more tea. Duh!
Tea – a magical elixor that turns “leave me alone or die” into “good morning sweetie”.
Dear Diary – Sometimes the sense of smell doesn’t seem like a gift. Hubby has no sense of smell. I believed him when, having been assaulted coming down the stairs but a big baby “bomb”, the kind where if it were a cartoon drawing, noxious green gas would be snaking across the floor, I told Hubby “your son reaks”. Hubby lifted son’s butt to his face and inhaled, and swore he couldn’t smell it. My eyes were burning. I could smell colour. Every creature within a 5 mile radius had already run for their lives as if pursued by a dark evil from the abyss. And Hubby was blissfully (and legitimately) oblivious!
As a result, I am the “tester” for all things foul…is this milk bad? Does this bread smell mouldy to you? This week it was, does my garbage can stink? That’s exactly where I planned to stick my face this evening…how did he know?
Occassionally, he can catch whiffs of something. Or the odd scent becomes noxiously potent to him, like the vanilla handcream I used to keep in my desk at the law firm. He could smell it hours and many hand washings after I put it on, so much so that I had to give it away, rather than cause him to have a severe allergic reaction.
Vanilla handcream he can smell, but the dead mice and potent posterior poops are all mine. Oh Goody!
Dear Diary – We have been getting quotes on our HVAC system since everything is at least 20 years old and needs to move out. Hubby was late for the most recent appointment, so I had to fill in. I did my best not to the let the sales guy see my eyes glazing over as he explained the whats and whys of his recommendation. Hubby arrived home before I completely passed out from boredom.
Shortly after that, I excused myself to answer the phone. I was literally saved by the bell. I forgot I had potatoes boiling on the stove (for potato-stuffed meatloaf) and they were just boiling dry. I whisked the smelly pot to the back porch as the men were coming up from the basement. The sales guy commented that someone’s been cooking and it smelled really good.
It did not.
Maybe he has no sense of smell either.
Dear Diary – This week I saw a chiropodist. Apparently it’s pronounced with a “ch”, not a “sh”, and I’ve been saying it wrong for years. I was really hoping there would be something I could do to regain my mobility with less pain, and stay off the heavy duty medication that may or may not have made me sick and/or contributed to the death flu I had in May.
I felt bad for this lovely young thing handling my alligator feet. The recommendation was braces.
When I was a tween, I desperately wanted braces (for my teeth) because all the popular kids had them. So I’m wondering, will these braces make me popular in the nouveau geriatric circles?
I really don’t mind getting older…but my body is taking it badly!
Dear Diary – I haven’t been swallowed in my jungle garden yet, but the job is far from complete. I did almost get eaten by a horde of angry ants. On Saturday, I also had the pleasure of watching Mr. Cardinal and his son. Like a Dad teaching his son how to drive, they flew circuits together around the backyards all afternoon.
This morning I’m pretty sure I spotted son navigating the neighbourhood on his own.
I hope my birdfeeder becomes his regular hang-out too, and I will get a photo session, just like I did dear old Dad.
Dear Diary – Probably the biggest news of the month: I FINALLY opened my Etsy store! In the last week, I made 0 sales, but I have 2 admirers. I know both of them…but it counts!
I have more inventory to upload…and I went fabric shopping again, so more projects to undertake.
And I’m happy!
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
Dear Diary – I just want you to know I’ve entered the snapdragon stage of the year…part of me has snapped and part of me is draggin’! It’s gardening season!
Yesterday I armoured up and headed into my backyard to tackle the “jungle”, a long rectangular flowerbed aligning the fence next to our neighbour. Our neighbour just spent a lot of money paying a guy to landscape her oasis, and in order to be a good neighbour, I need to do my part.
I say flower bed rather loosely. It’s more like a strip of land ruled by an overlord called Elderwart. It’s a noxious tyranant who chokes out all living things in its path, and reproduces at an alarming rate. At the moment, the leaves are knee-high, and the delicate flowers that resemble queen anne’s lace, is nearing my shoulders. I realize I am not a giant among men (or women), but it’s beyond ridiculous.
I have battled this demon for over 20 years. Nothing kills it! I have dug pits 2 feet deep to remove it’s roots and offspring. I have severed and slashed ruthlessly and without mercy. Every year I vow that this will be the year I am victorious, and by mid-May, I hang my head my defeat.
I almost conquered it once, and it nearly killed me. Three Saturdays in a row from the time I rose until the evening dinner hour, I travailed, wreaking destruction and burying it under a thick, black cloth. But the overlord creeped under the cover of darkness to pop up along the edges and cracks, and seams in the cloth. I lost.
Yesterday, I laboured for an hour and a half (with a minecraft break in the middle), but only succeeded in clearing a 4’x2′ patch. I freed the sweet peas and I’m nearing the border on a lily. My knees were covered in dirt; I had pieces of tree in my hair. And today, my shoulder and butt muscles are screaming, “what have you done”?
I vow….this year is THE year I will conquer. Or burn it to the ground
Well it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, I won’t be pushed around Move over, move over, move over, Get back or just get out Set this plane up in flames It’s over, it’s over, it’s over…It’s time to burn it down!
Skillet, Burn It Down
Dear Diary – I had a TMI moment (aka Too Much Information). A TMI is the suddenly manifestation of a mental picture painted “with broad, sweeping strokes” when your brain (whether it dwells in the gutter or not) spontaneously fills in the blanks after someone says something that may be completely innocent.
Youngest Son asked me if I wanted to play Halo. It’s been kind of our chillig out thing lately. I was rushing up the stairs at the moment.
Dear Diary – It took us several hours, but Hubby and I finally scraped the mud off our boots and headed to the Mall Saturday afternoon. Hubby’s phone battery has been in the “vestibule of heaven” for quite some time, requiring charging daily so it can limp through the working hours. There are days I relate!
I got up at 9, as promised, so I would be ready to go and we could be there for the 10 a.m. opening. But Hubby was updating his laptop, so I drank tea and watched The Great British Sewing Bee instead. Then we realized my cellphone, which he was going to assume, was almost dead.
A couple hours later, we made the long trek to the Mall, very narrowly escaping collision with several drivers who drove like they were alone in parking lot! Safely parked, we headed to the nearest exit, when Hubby realized. He left his cell phone at home.
An hour later (which included a detour to the post office and a potty break at home for me after the extra breakfast tea), we arrived at our destination. Only the storefront was now part of the food court. We travelled along with the unmasked masses until we could find the “you are here” sign and find the new location.
It was a half hour wait at the store as an older gentleman argued with the sales clerk, who patiently explained over and over again until he stormed off in a huff. Our own transaction was remarkably painless, and would have been shorter had their only 2 tablets been in working condition. After a dozen attempts to write my e-initials on the screen, she went “old school” and printed out the contract.
Most of my settings, contacts, etc. transferred to the new phone, which is very similar to the one I had. The only big difference is that my cell phone hoots at me when I get a text. I’ll have to change that. For Hubby, this is the new adventure of finding all the important buttons. Most of my photos, texts and contacts are still on his phone too, hopefully not providing him with light entertainment. My ring tone and text tone are there too, so whenever the phone rings, we have to ask “is it yours or mine”? He’ll have to change that too.
Most phones come with a charger. This one did too. Only instead of having a “boy” end (USB to charge) and a “girl” end (to plug into the phone), this charger is both “girls”. Cute, but useless.
We’ll have to learn to share our one charger.
Dear Diary – Summer’s heat is coming an with it, Hubby’s complaints when I use the oven and heat the house even more, so I made a few things to tuck away. I made beet pickles, blueberry scones, chai scones…and bunny buns.
Or what was supposed to be bunny buns. They were adorable on Pinterest.
Mine looked more like an obese mixture of the dragon, Toothless, in the How to Train Your Dragon movies and a gerbil-like Pokemon.
It didn’t help that as they baked, they grew more obese, and their noses ended up stuck to the bottoms of the ones in front of them. Mmmm-wa!
Hubby complained that they were too “bready”. Ah…hello! They’re buns. Bunny buns!
I wanted to tell him to kiss my fluffy white keester, but instead, I just smiled sweetly…it makes him nervous because he has no idea what I am thinking
The next time your wife gets angry, drape a dish towel over her shoulders like a cape and explain, ‘now you are … Super Angry‘.
Dear Diary – Not only is my child faster in video games, he’s faster in come-backs. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.
On Sunday evening, phone in hand, Hubby headed up the stairs. “I’m going to call my Dad”, he said, “but I have to go to the bathroom first”.
“That’s a pity”, I said (referring to the bathroom break, not the call).
“No,” Youngest Son retorted, “it’s a duty”.
Dear Diary – Summer is fast approaching, bringing with it hot and humid days. Which means my window for baking is coming to a close. So in an effort to find joy in the current “ho-hum” of life, I decided to tackle a couple of new recipes.
The first was onion jam. It was a tearful experience…but only because I had to chop 4 cups of onions. It was also a long experience as it required constant attention, and disappointingly, yielded only 2 cups. I’m not sure I would call it “jam” as the word infers something sticky and, well….”jammy”. It was the texture of very soft and caramelized onion. But! It was delicious on a hamburger, and if there’d been bacon and goat cheese too, I would have been in heaven.
My second recipe was not really a recipe at all. I literally cobbled together an apple-rhubard crumble pie using my apple crisp recipe x2, and instinct.
Two years ago, my aunt blessed me with some of her rhubarb plants and I have been carefully watching my tiny patch. This year, it produced enough rhubarb for a taste, while leaving plenty to go to seed so my patch will grow. Rhubarb is hard to find in the city and it’s priced like gold!
To make things easier, I used a frozen pie shell for the base, because eating was a higher priority than fussing with pastry. I’m happy to report that, for once, I didn’t have a mental bakedown. My instinct paid off, and we polished that pie off in 2 days. It would have been one but I managed to keep the wolves at bay with a wooden spoon.
This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.
Dear Diary – I was playing Halo with Youngest Son yesterday, and in a panic, I furiously pushed the button and yelled, “why can’t I change guns?. Slightly annoyed, Youngest Son tells me, “that’s because you’re pushing the “capture screenshot” button…like 20 times”.
So…. apparently my new controller has an extra button to capture screenshots.
Dear Diary – Today I went to Home Depot to buy herbs and flowers. I couldn’t invest much in my garden during covid. We couldn’t “shop” and the selection was limited or quickly picked over. I ordered seeds onlinelast year, but most of them never grew. Only the basil, and it was “basil on steroids”. I still have plenty left from my harvest last summer – dried, frozen, and minced and made into ice cubes.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
I have always felt there is something special about gardening. The size, the space, the colour, the texture of the garden matters not because it’s about more than growing flowers or producing vegetables. It’s about nurturing the soul. Hands not idle, yet a quiet time for the mind to reflect or meditate. A safe space for tears to flow, and a restless heart to find peace.
Peace is something for which we are all searching. Whether it’s a break from the hurriedness of life, or calmness in a storm. I believe our Creator speaks to us in a garden. Like every person, each petal and blade of grass is a different and beautiful. We just need to look more closely.
I’m reminded that when Jesus sought the Father, asking that He been spared the cross, it was in a garden. It was also a garden where He met Mary after He rose again. C. Austin Miles was inspired by this story when he wrote the hymn, In the Garden, in April, 1912. It was my great-grandmother’s favourite hymn. He writes in the first person of walking in the garden with Jesus, and the peace and joy experienced in that place.
I am aware that my new fragrant herbs and purple petunias cannot chase away the grey clouds in my life, (nor rooting out the tangle of weeds that reach my knees), but I expect I will meet with Someone who can. Already, my heart overflows.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
C. Austin Miles
Dear Diary – I’ve been putting it off for some time now, but in order to get my Etsy business off the ground, I needed photos of my cute bags with a model. Since I can count the number of friends I have on one hand, my best option was not to harass ask them. but to do it myself. But in order to do that, there were a few obstacles to overcome.
First, I needed a plain background, and my house offers neither a plain blank wall or a brick facade. We have a wooden fence but standing knee-deep in weeds, climbing over a pile of assorted boards, or figuring out how to use a power tool to remove paintings (that no longer have a picture) was too overwhelming. I finally decided to amuse my neighbours and use the straggly, hole-y hedge in the front yard.
Setting established, the next challenge was to figure out how to use the tripod. I vaguely recalled Youngest Son using it once for a school project and it being waist-high, but after several minutes of unlocking and locking toggles, and tugging on poles, I was beginning to think it had all been a dream. I could barely get the camera higher than my knees. And I’m short! I would have asked Youngest Son but he was writing a physics test and I didn’t want to interrupt him. Fortunately, before I threw it across the room, I had a rare “ah-ha!” moment, and the problem was solved.
I attached my camera and turned it on.
The battery was dead.
An hour later, having put my hair up and changed into a black knit dress and jean jacket, I headed out with a basket full of bags, my tripod, my camera, and a looming sense of dread.
It was too hot for a jean jacket!
It took several attempts to figure out how to use the timer. After several snaps of my knees, face and butt (thankfully blurry), I figured out how to make it autofocus. Sort of. But despite the gray skies and looming black clouds, the photos were washed out.
I hefted everything closer to the road and tried again. But it was the same issue. So I moved everything again, within feet of the road but under the shade of the tree.
By now, the guy across the street was watching me from his front door, several passers-by had quizzed me non-verbally, and George down the street, was pretending to work in his garden.
I didn’t appreciate an audience.
By the end, I was becoming quite a pro at guessing where to stand with 5 seconds remaining, and how to turn to hide my chubby elbows and “water wings”. Or so I thought.
I have photos.
They’re not great.
But at least I finished my project before it started to rain.
I always thought it would be fun to be a model, but quite frankly, it’s hard work taking accessories off and on, holding odd positions, and pretending it was “fun”. I’d say “I’ll keep my day job” but I’m still figuring out just what that should be.
You know why adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up? It’s because they’re looking for ideas!
Dear Diary – We made it to week 21, the legal drinking age back in the ’70’s. But I don’t need to reach for alcohol to have a good time. I just have to watch the birds.
This morning I watched a happy robin skip up the belly of my upside-down wheelbarrow and hop on the wheel…which immediately started turning, literally scaring the crap out of the bird as it squawked rudely and its wings and legs flailed wildly in all directions. Once composed on the ground, intact and with attitude it strolled into the garden, where it could hide in shame amongst the lilacs.
Totally what I would do.
If I’d only had my camera ready…
Dear Diary – Friday I made my way to a hospital I haven’t been to in over a decade, for my bi-annual mammogram and ultrasound. The first challenge was finding a parking spot. I found one fairly quickly but it required me to carefully wedge my small car between a huge SUV crowding the line on the right, and a concrete post on the front left corner. Next, I had to hobble my way in from the wilderness and stand in a cue for clearance to enter the building. With the fresh yellow mask that was 2 sizes too big for my nanohead, I began wandering the halls to find the elevator level one. Level one was not the floor on which I entered the building. That was the ground level. I had been instructed to follow the green lines on the floor and I did. I really did…until I got off the elevator and the green lines were non-existant. I found them again, after wandering the wrong direction and being redirected by an unamused receptionist at the other imaging desk.
Once I arrived, I was quickly processed, stripped, gowned, and watching a newscaster discuss monkey pox on the television. Yes, it’s a real thing!
Visit your garage at 3 a.m. when the temperature of the cement floor is just perfect. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the floor sideways with one breast wedged under the rear tire of the car. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until your breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled. Switch sides, and repeat for the other breast.
The only thing they forgot to add is shallow breaths…which, when your tender bits are being crushed, is all you can do!
I have an irrational fear when it comes to mammograms. I can handle the discomfort of baring my breasts to a stranger and having my body twisted and manhandled into a torturous device. It’s a necessary evil and I will do it rather than risk the consequences of not. Medicine rocks! It’s the fear of being trapped in said device. I once read a story, probably an urban legend, that a fire alarm went off during one woman’s mammogram, and in her panic, the technician ran off, leaving this poor woman trapped in the machine. There is no fail-safe release lever for the patient in the event of an emergency, and being so severely squished, this poor woman could not inhale sufficiently to call for help. Eventually she was released and compensated for her trauma, but that mental image is forever burned in my brain.
My doctor called me this week to say that for the most part, everything looks great. Except for a tiny cyst that the clinic would like to view next year.
Dear Diary – Do you remember last week when I posted a photo of my pickle castor to see if I would get more likes than a posting of a deviled egg plate? The deviled eggs were more popular than my blog, by a huge margin.
Dear Diary – I was watching a nuthatch enjoying our breakfast bar on the back porch. Normally, nuthatches don’t like to share, but there did appear to be another bird on the other side. After I looked out the other window, I realized with horror that there was another bird but…it was stuck inside the bird feeder. I have NO idea how this little twerp found his way inside since the openings are less than half an inch high and three inches wide. Fortunately, the roof of the house-shaped bird feeder lifts up. Unfortunately, I’m way too short to reach it!
I dragged a lawn chair closer and precariously perched on the edges of said chair, knowing full well that if I stood in the centre I was going to fall right through. Lifting the roof, I released little twerp, who flew immediately to the lilac tree and a great discourse ensued over this harrowing experience.
Maybe they were playing angry birds and overshot the ledge!
Dear Diary – Youngest Son is officially taller than Hubby!
Hubby is not amused!
Dear Diary – Eldest Son sent me a realty listing for a property near him. It was over $4 million. I told him he could the $4 million and I’d cover the rest…
Dear Diary – This Saturday we experienced an incredible storm, which now has its own Wikipedia page. Merriam-Webster defines a derecho as “a large fast-moving complex of thunderstorms with powerful straight-line winds that cause widespread destruction”.
I was washing windows on this beautiful, sunny, breezy afternoon when the alert from Environment Canada blared on our cell phones. Hubby was watching a gentleman inspect our air conditioner outside. Within 15 minutes, the house was as dark as it is by dinnertime in the winter and the wind was tossing the trees. Hubby and the furnace guy hustled inside as the rain started. In the blink of an eye, the lilac tree was kissing the ground and the rain flew by sideways in misty white furls. Hubby and furnace guy had just started to inspect the furnace when the power went out. Furnace Guy decided he’d return another day despite our offers to stay until the storm had passed, and we watched him twist his way down the street around the path of large branches littering our street.
As quickly as it started, the storm was over and we were more fortunate than many of our neighbours. Eldest Son’s friends who live literally blocks from us, were without power for 18 hours. At least one EF2 tornado has been confirmed in a neighbouring town, and my father-in-law, who is about 6 hours away, may still be without power.
That evening we drove to McDonald’s for ice cream and to survey some of the damage. Large trees had taken down fences and roofs had been stripped of more than just shingles. Even a safety bar at the train crossing had been ripped off. The line up at McDonald’s was long so we just came home.
I wondered how Youngest Son was…since he was camping in a field at a youth event. (He was – just some broken tent poles and soggy sleeping bags. All part of the adventure!)
I wondered if Eldest Son was going to be working long hours to clean up the storm damage around hydro lines. (He was long into the early morning hours).
On Sunday morning, we went to visit Eldest Son. It’s been at least 3-4 years, partly thanks to covid, since I’ve been to his place, and despite assurances that he has cleaned from time to time, I was still dubious. I had every right to be! We tidied and sorted and cleaned together for hours. More importantly, I got to meet his girlfriend. She’s pretty and sweet, and I’m so happy for him!
We left early in the evening so they could have some time alone. I entertained myself by taking photos out the window.
And I watched the sun set in a glorious array of gold.
I live in constant anticipation of good stuff. It’s not being ‘Pollyanna’ about things, but most stories don’t have the ending we would give them right away. The better endings come later.
Dear Diary – Sometimes there are things I’d rather be doing. Like this morning, for instance. I would rather have been catching you up on my week than shopping for a friend’s very personal hygiene items. But –
A friend loves at all times.
I received a call early this morning (between breakfast and getting dressed) from an out-of-breath friend asking me to come over right away because she needed help. She’s normally obstinate and independent, so when she asks for help, it’s serious. I dropped everything, tossed on some clothes and headed out.
Everything is not OK, but it’s better. I’m “on call” at home and will check in later. Her friend in her building will check in too. I’m not “tooting my own horn”. I just think there’s a lot of me-firstness in the world, and if we don’t take care of each other, the me-firstness will grow. I want to nourish kindness in the world for furture generations.
Even if it involves shopping for someone else’s very personal hygiene products, way too early in the morning! 😉
Dear Diary – A recent study in the US found that 6 in 10 people claim hitting the snooze button improves their relationships because they’re getting more sleep. Another study suggest that hitting the snooze button is actually bad for your health because it interrupts REM sleep, which is the restorative sleep stage. What both studies agree on is that we don’t get enough quality sleep. In fact, for an extra hour of sleep, between 24-33% of people would give up eating with a knife or spoon, give up attending a concert or game forever, abandoning their favourite streaming service for a year, sleeping on the floor for a month, or wearing uncomfortable shoes for a week.
I’m a snooze bar hitter. I will purposefully set my alarm so I can hit snooze once or twice before I have to get up. So all I can say is, “10 more minutes, please”.
Youngst Son and I recently saw an ad for a Sleep Tracker App. It records your sleep activity: when you roll over, when you talk, when you snore, when you fart… Seriously! Why do I need to know I let one rip at 3:30 a.m.? How is that going to improve the quality or quantity of my life?
Youngest Son joked that my folks shouldn’t use it. They both argue that they don’t snore, even though we’ve all heard them. I wonder if it measures “breathing”? Hubby doesn’t snore all that much, but he BREATHES and it keeps me awake. That’s why we’re “sleep divorced”. We’ve slept in separate rooms for most of our married life. I think it’s a key factor to how we survived together this long without killing each other. Better sleep = better attitude and less stupid fights. It’s been better to miss out on pillow talk than to stop talking altogether. Most people disagree with our decision, but then, they don’t have to live with us!
Dear Diary – My neighbours built a new castle in their backyard last weekend. Their yard is cluttered with other things that will probably never get used…like the old plastic castle, a hammock frame, a fire pit, a broken hot tub, and a yellow slide. But I shouldn’t cast stones. My own yard is also cluttered with things we don’t use: a wheelbarrow, a ladder, an odd pile of lumber, and the railings from our front steps. We might need one or all of those things…someday!
Dear Diary – A local and prestigious university is offering a new course in September…on Taylor Swift. Yeah, THAT will prepare us for the future.
Dear Diary – Sometimes the smallest things can have the greatest impact. On Sunday, despite the sudden onset of deep summer temperatures, I went for a walk, around the block! I have struggled just to walk to the fridge for the last 3 months, so I saw this as a personal victory.
I was called in suddenly by my GP last week after a chest xray and bloodwork, and found out my lungs are overinflating. It’s the only part of me right now that is “hyperactive”. So while I’m currently still not taking the heavy-duty medication that likely contributed to me contracting the Death Flu, I’ve had an inhaler added to my “pharmacy”. And it does feel like a pharmacy! I have pills for this and cream for that. I have doled out tylenol, immodium, and lactaid from my purse, like a seniors’ dealer. And when I travel I have to pack a separate bag for it all. I used to marvel at how much “old people” talked about their ailments, medications, and doctor’s appointments. I’m beginning to understand…
Dear Diary – Last week, someone’s photo of a deviled egg dish got more likes on Facebook than my blog. So as a test, I’m posting a photo of my pickle castor just to see what happens.
Dear Diary – My parents made an impromptu visit ealier this week, but since I’m still hobbling and wheezing, my Mom taught me some of the ins and outs of online shopping. It’s a whole new world! The next day we made a quick trip to the local mall and I couldn’t believe how much it’s changed. But then, it has been the better part of 2 years since I’ve been there. I tried on several sundresses, mostly because the only sizes they had were small or large, or XXL. Thankfully, for now, XXL is still too big for me! Now that I have an idea how things are fitting (case in point, I have several pairs of jeans ranging from size 3-12), I can shop ’til I drop…on the couch for a nap.
I’ve been away, walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Ok, that’s alittle extreme, but I have been very sick for the past week or more. I don’t know the cause except to say that it was not covid. Hubby took me for testing. It could have been a form of Death Flu or an Intrepid Infection. Or it could have been an adverse reaction to my new medication which compromises my immunity even more severely than before, and could have led to the contraction of a Death Flu or Intrepid Infection. In any event, I’m going to live!
Thank you to those who sent hugs and well-wishes to my 2 Facebook status posts, typed in the few moments of lucidity that I had. I needed them desperately. Hubby popped in my bedroom door now and then, masked and hugging the door like a long-lost relative; otherwise I went days without any human touch (except the EMT who was way too personal! But I’ll get to that).
My birthday was overshadowed by nausea on the last Friday of April. I assumed it might food poisoning because Youngest Son cooked dinner and I wasn’t sure I had preheated the oven to the right temperature. The day was a quiet one. I watched figure skating from the Olympics, played Minecraft with Youngest Son during his lunch period, and Overwatch with Oldest Son before dinner. Oldest Son ubered me a Cora’s chocolate and strawberry crepe for brunch. I had worship rehearsal so took homemade chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream icing to share with my team. I finally got to open my gifts at 10 p.m. before settling into bed.
By Monday afternoon, I had an epic sinus headache and felt tired, but I often feel tired when I’ve been up really early and leading worship on Sunday morning. The headache continued on Tuesday so I took a Tylenol and carried on. By Tuesday evening, I knew it was no use. I probably had a sinus infection. On Wednesday morning, feeling worse by the minute, I feared Covid. I slept all day. Hubby picked up a thermometer and RAT kit on his way home from work. He also brought work home with him because he couldn’t go in if I did have covid.
The RAT was negative.
Hubby stayed home on Thursday so he could take me to the covid clinic, which I booked as soon as they opened. At High Noon, he dropped me by the wooden gangplank leading to the clinic, and I stood waiting for my turn… in an empty room. I hoped that if I dropped on the spot, someone would notice. But the lobotomizing PCR test came back negative as well. I was advised by the nurse to call my rheumatologist and she wished me a “great day”.
I made it back to the car without passing out. “Great day” accomplished.
My rheumatologist’s assistant was thorough and sweet, and within an hour I had my answer: stop taking the medication and if I still have the fever in 2 days, to seek medical help. Awesome! And just when the medication was starting to work. Oh, I wasn’t ready to dance a jig, but I was nearly back to “normal”.
Hubby ran me a bath Thursday afternoon. I vaguely remember requesting it, or did I just say I was going to and he jumped in to help? I didn’t have to imagine the pervasive funk that followed me; I could also see the growing pile of sodden jammies and blankets I had sweat through, especially at night. I don’t understand why, lying still and sleeping, my weary body would work so hard to squeeze every last drop of liquid from my person.
Friday evening, Hubby arrived with flowers and Gatorade! Shortly after, Youngest Son brought in a bag of chocolate covered almonds and a bag with 4 O Henry’s (O Henry!) and laid them on the floor by my 2L bottle of gingerale.
Ah! My Mother’s Day gifts?
By Saturday evening, my bed was a complete disaster. I had 3 different blankets rolled in to balls, each a different thickness. I slept with the thermometer, my iPad, a half box of Cheerios, a package of crackers, and a portable DVD player, loaded with the 1970’s British t.v. series, Upstairs Downstairs. I listened to several of them when I was too tired to watch. My nightstand was cluttered with am assortment of oddities and the gingerale, gatorade, and chocolate were still on the floor. Hubby brought me a Tim’s tea that morning, but I still had no interest in tea.
Yes! I was that sick!
I will never forget this past Mother’s Day!
I called telehealth Sunday morning for advice since I still had a fever, and I explained my sorry tale three times. I still can’t grasp what really happened, but before I knew it I had consented to an ambulance. I think they heard “some chest pain” in my list of symptoms and latched onto it like I was dying. I was transferred to the 911 disbatcher, and when she put me on hold, I started hollering for Hubby. This was his fault.
I’m sure the shocked look on his face mirrored my own.
I could hear the sirens in the distance and dropped my head in my hands. As if a shiny blue and white ambulance showing up in my driveway wasn’t going to be enough of a spectacle for the neighbours, did they have to announce themselves too?
Only it wasn’t an ambulance. It was a shiny red fire engine!
Most nosey neighbours seeing or hearing an ambulance outside watch discreetly from the window so as not to invade anyone’s privacy. (I’m aware of the irony in that statement. Plus that’s what I do). But isn’t there something about shiny red fire engines that draws people out more? Certainly when there IS a fire, the street becomes a block party! I started imagining folks hovering on their front porches and little children lining the street.
As 2 firefighters clambored into my room, I blurted out, rather mortified, “I’m not dying! I only called for advice”. I was told to stay calm and was asked a bunch of questions about my symptoms, my personal information, and my medications (with a lot of Ma’ams I might add), and he wrote it all on his glove. As he was writing I could hear Party Number 2’s sirens singing in the distance…and ever closer.
Now I really was disturbing the peace.
The firefighters were summarily dismissed by the EMT and he apologized. Firefighters are only supposed to come if I weren’t conscious, which I clearly was!
I never thought a simple phonecall…on Mother’s Day…would result in hot firefighters in my bedroom, or worse, a man in a hazmat suit unbuttoning my nightie and handling my boob (for an ekg). It was the first physical touch I had experienced in days, having been cloistered in my tower for the better part of 5 days. It was far from titillating, and I muttered sarcastically under my breath, “Happy Mother’s Day”. He apologized several times. I just smiled and assured him “it was fine” and to “just do what you need to do”. Afterall, he was there to keep me alive should a serious problem exist. He was also kind and compassionate, not wanting to add to my distress. It is something for which to be noted and admired in most of our healthcare professionals, not overlooked or dismissed in favour of budgets, schedules or our own feelings because it sometimes takes so long.
He confirmed my heart was not in distress, and Hubby and I decided not to detain him any longer. I signed the waiver, and with a wave, he told me to “feel better soon”.
Our neighbour came knocking 10 minutes later to find out what was going on, and what could she do to help?
I didn’t want to leave the house ever again except under cover of darkness.
That afternoon, my friend helped me connect with a clinic that would book me a phone appointment. The doctor called me 2 hours earlier than expected, and after answering his questions, he asked me if I could come in right away. I’d have to leave the house in broad daylight.
It was a short journey and a short appointment, but I was exhausted when I got home. Hubby ordered our celebratory Mother’s Day meal while I went to book a bloodwork appointment. Normally, appointments have to be booked weeks in advance, or would require a long wait in a poorly lit, very uncomfortable room filled with the “masses”. To my astonishment, God blessed me with one opening! I snagged it.
The Chinese food was meh, but the company was wonderful. I was “allowed” to eat downstairs with my family.
Both bloodwork and x-rays were accomplished Monday morning. I already had an appointment with my GP on Tuesday, so I called to see if I could do it by phone, knowing I’d be too weak to drive into the city. I was politely rebuffed and rebooked for June 1st.
Why not? I had survived this long.
I’m on the mend. This week I’ve focused on small jobs between long rests. At least until yesterday afternoon, when my GP called with my test results. I have to see her first thing this morning. I feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office.
The internet obliged me with all sorts of information on horrible, life-limiting things these results could mean…assuming I remembered correctly what she said (it’s kind of a blur), so with trepidition, I will arise early and venture forth into the city. In rush hour. It would seem I’m still caught in an ocean of wave upon wave of jolly good health news and I had better hurry up and learn to surf.
On the plus side, Spring arrived while I was sleeping. At the beginning of last week, between my drawn curtains, I noticed little red buds on the maple trees out front. By Friday, those buds had changed to yellow blossoms, and Hubby reported tiny pops of yellow and red in the front flower bed. Passersby have traded their winter coats for exposed white (so white!) flesh. Now I can sweat through my clothes, outside of bed too.
If you’re allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if that thing is a cat.
If you can’t control your peanut butter, you can’t control your life.
Eldest Son introduced me to the videos (and recipes) of B. Dylan Hollis. He’s a social media star who began his “career” just having a little fun posting humourous, monologue-driven cooking vidoes on Tik-Tok. What made him stand out from all the rest is that:
a) he is not a chef or a cook, but rather a jazz musician
b) he uses only vintage recipes.
On Good Friday, Eldest Son and his girlfriend followed Dylan’s recipe and made peanut butter bread – the 1932 version!
This Great Depression recipe is a simple recipe that doesn’t use any eggs or butter. Butter was a prized staple and needed to prepare dinner, not to be used on something as frivilous as dessert. In the city especially, dairy and fresh produce were extremely coveted. However, peanut butter was often a pantry staple because of its long shelf life. It provided the fat needed in baked goods, as well as flavour.
“I tell you, a door hinge could make this recipe”
B. Dylan Hollis
This peanut butter bread looked like a dense loaf, but it was surprisingly light with a subtle peanut butter flavour. It was delicious warmed with butter and honey and paired with hot tea, for an indulgent bedtime snack.
Dylan also tried a 1945 recipe, which used less milk but more salt, sugar and peanut butter. The cooking time was almost cut in half, but that’s because the temperature was much higher. And instead of mixing it all together, this recipe required hands on work, as in working the peanut butter into the flour mixture with your hands.
A week later, back in my kitchen, Eldest Son and I attemped peanut butter bread using Dylan’s recipe (after all of his failed experiments…6 to be exact). His recipe employed a slighty different method to incorporate all the ingredients. He also used less baking powder (to reduce the bitter flavour from too much), and added a room-temperature egg and sweetened applesauce. He noted that this recipe doesn’t work with natural or organic peanut butter because they don’t contain emulsifiers.
I let Eldest Son do most of the work…
But, since the peanut butter had to be mixed in using fingertips much like scones, just like with every jack-o-lantern we ever carved together, I had to get involved because Eldest Son didn’t want to get all sticky. Come to think of it, Youngest Son was the same way. No guts – no glory! Or in October, no jack-o-lantern!
I explained that we had to shag the dough, which led to all kinds of sensual sounds and slightly naughty jokes…
I couldn’t help myself…
We didn’t have any plain sweetened applesauce, so we used unsweetened pear applesauce, and we added chocolate chips. Dylan advised avoiding vanilla extract or spices like cinnamon because they tend to steal some of the peanut butter flavour. And quite frankly, when you’re baking peanut butter bread, you want to taste peanut butter!
We’ve become very spoiled in terms of sweetness. Dylan says this recipe created more of a “dessert bread” than the 1932 recipe. In 1932, the bread was meant to be buttered or jammed, and could be included as part of the meal rather than a sweet at the end. I’d have to agree. The texture of his bread was more cake-like than the 1932 version, and a little heavier and more “roasty”. Of course, the addition of chocolate chips also made it more “dessert-like”.
But who’s complaining?
Both recipes were easy and didn’t require unusual ingredients. I hate reading recipes that require something exotic and expensive, especially when I have to buy a jar, for like 1/4 tsp. And honestly, both loaves tasted great with a cup of tea.
I’m posting the link to the tik tok video on youtube below, for your amusement…or to get the recipes. It’s about 15 minutes, and not as quirky as some of his other videos, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, why not look to the past? Not everything new is “golden”.
I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.
Dear Diary – I was sitting on the toilet the other day and something in the floor started snapping. My only thought was “please God, I know I’ve gained weight. Please don’t let it drop through the floor”.
Dear Diary – After all the stressing about jury duty, all the paperwork and waiting and praying to hear if my request for exemption was granted (which it was), I received an email the morning of my summons that my jury duty panel was cancelled.
Dear Diary – On April 27, 2021, I wrote on Facebook:
In the last 26 hours, I’ve driven to the ER, J’s car blew up, my grocery order got lost twice, the sewer backed up, we’re out of milk, and my credit card is blocked.
Fortunately, I posted an update the very next day:
We’re going to survive! The day is almost over! Everyone is healthy, the sewage is fixed (smells bad tho), I showered, and we’re full of leftovers and hashbrowns! Hopefully #3 grocery reservation won’t get lost tomorrow and the locusts will be delayed until next week! Thx for the thoughts, prayers and laughs.
Dear Diary – After we found the bank in town closed due to covid absences, Eldest son put in a mobile order for pick-up at Tim Horton’s, but the website was so bad, we ended up waiting for it to process for over 10 minutes in the Tim Horton’s parking lot.
On the way home from my folks last Friday, I made a quick pit stop at Tim Horton’s at the halfway mark. FIrst, the bathroom was filthy, with t.p. strewn all over the floors. Then, after three teenage girls told me to go ahead to order, there was no cashier. I waited for over 5 minutes there while the workers visited with the girls behind me. And finally, even if I wanted to order food, there was virtually none in the display case. Rather than getting loud, I just left and went through the drive-thru, which miraculously, was still serving customers.
Tim Horton’s sent me a friendly email to ask about my recent experience. They may regret it.
Dear Diary – The boys and I went for long overdue haircuts last week. Youngest Son’s was the greatest transformation (You’ll have to trust me on that since he won’t allow photos). In fact, it made him look even taller!
I had seriously considered going short, really short! But then I remembered I have a nano-head and short hair just accentuates it, so I went less radical.
I was told I had to post a post-haircut photo.
See…not radical. Boring. This time.
Dear Diary – Eldest Son arrived at Easter with homemade butter tarts and homemade peanut butter bread. He’d been baking with his girlfriend! (aw…) It was light in texture and delicate in flavour, which I did not expect in such a large and strong-smelling loaf.
Last weekend, we tried an alternate recipe for Peanut Butter Bread in my kitchen. And we added chocolate chips. I’ll be sharing more about it on Monday (with the photos I found on my camera after thinking I had accidentally deleted them from my cell phone…because old people and technology…and memory). It goes great with a hot cup of tea!
Dear Diary – A lovely woman at church (whose name I don’t know) keeps passing me fabric she’s found in her closet and no longer needs. The first bag contained cherry red corduroy. I thew it in a dark load in the washer but I tossed in a few extra white undies…You know where this is going.
My undies aren’t white anymore.
At the bottom of the latest bag was a cool piece of black fabric with sparkles. Not thinking, I threw it in the washer on the weekend. Now everything, from t-shirts and pants, to socks and briefs, are covered in gold sparkles. To make it worse, someone left a tissue in his pocket too!
Dear Diary – Someone posted a photo of “Little House on the Prairie” dresses at Target with the caption “I’ve had enough of Target and these blessed be the fruit clothes”. They purchased a couple and then took photos of the guys around the farm in these dresses. They were hilarious! My favourites were the demure guy holding eggs in his apron; he was sporting a lovely bushy beard, and the other was a balding guy climbing the turnstyle. He showed a little ankle (gasp!). I told Eldest Son, “we should totally do that”.
Eldest Son is a good sport. I pulled out the pioneer dress my Grandmother made to commemorate Canada’s centennial. My Mom wore this dress when she volunteered at a working museum. She even wore it when she was pregnant with me; I wore it at the same place, when I was pregnant with Eldest Son.
Since it was raining (and the dress was way too tight over his broad shoulders), we only took one photo.