31 March 2007

Sunflurry ...

It was grey and dingy and snowing again, this morning.
Even though Vincent didn't make it to town after all, Marmaduke, Oliver, Dawn and I decided to go for breakfast at Lucky Saloon anyway. It's a cool little place, within walking distance. When we came out, it was still snowing and the sun was shining ... sunflurries!

30 March 2007

Empty ...

She hadn't cried in many years.
She didn't want to say goodbye to Patty in front of everyone, so Patty would take her and her walker over to her new room at the home and we would stay with the kids. She cried saying goodbye to the kids and she cried saying goodbye to me. She asked me to take care of Patty. Once she started out the door, she didn't look back.
When Patty came back, we cleared out the fridge, got the kids into jackets and boots and rounded up their things for in the car.
The last one out, I picked up the bowl that she'd given me to take home and turned to close the door.
Her things were still there, her furniture and pictures, winnowed down to the most precious, as she moved to smaller and smaller places. In that moment, though, the place was empty ... it knew she didn't live there anymore.

25 March 2007

Mosquito Ranch ...

I made (and timed and documented, to see if it qualified as a quick and easy recipe for Mona) hippie lasagna yesterday (see previous post) and generally dawdled about 'til it seemed like a reasonable time to head out to the Mosquito Ranch. Noone else was there yet, but I got to see Darwin (and his übermacho camo clamshell cast) before he left to go hang out with the guys (and escape the girl invasion). Chelsea, Bernie and I hung out in the sunshine, built a smoke (there were flames, too, but really, let's call a spade a spade) and shovelled water down the driveway.

Barbara, Annailese and Miles arrove shortly before Patty, Sarah, Ally and Raye did. There was a game of shovelball in the driveway ... involving one fully inflated soccer ball, one half-flat one, two shovels, puddles, snow lumps, Annailese, Bernie, and rules that only they knew.

After a flurry of snowpants, we went for a walk on the deer trails in the woods behind the house. We saw the rootball of a tipped-over tree, deer poop, moose poop, dog poop and likely coyote poop, all of which was thoroughly examined and remarked upon. The parts of the trails nearest the house are completely carpeted with deer poop. It's quite remarkable how even the coverage is. When we came out the other end of the trail, Chelsea took the road back to check on dinner and the rest of us took another trail back through the woods and all got wet and muddy to varying degrees. We played in the yard for a little while when we got back, then had a reverse flurry of snowpants and went in to get dry clothes on. The kids and Miles played restaurant downstairs and had a musical parade while the rest of us kitchened.

Dinner was baked salmon, brown rice, Patty's wonderful salad, and hippie lasagna ... at grown-up and kid tables (a first!). Afterwards, Chelsea and Miles' cousin arrived, there was another parade, cleaning, shreiking, running, yacking, wine and beer, playing with guinea pigs, stories, jammies, hugs, smooches, tuckings in in shifts, and more wine and beer and yacking. Folx drifted off to bed, one by one, and I came home.

T'was a good day.
Happy Sustainability Sunday!

Two-Hour Hippie Lasagna

With Clean Laundry, Clean Kitchen and Clean Cook on the side.

Wait. Before we start the clock, there's some prep to be done. No, this isn't one of those recipes that requires that you have scoured the kitchen, pre-heated the oven, assembled all your tools and measured your ingredients before you even start. Those suck. This is mostly mental prep work.

On the other hand, if you want slow-simmered sauce, different sauces for each layer or slow-cooked onions and mushrooms and lovingly soaked and simmered beans, you'd better make them ahead, 'cuz there's no way that's happening in this two hours. Also, this is a solo time ... if you have help (particularly of the child kind) all bets are off.

To make the amazing two-hour hippie lasagna with clean laundry, clean kitchen and clean cook on the side, start with a clear idea of what you're going to do and know where everything is so you don't get the prep work done and remember that the pan you wanted to use is still at the neighbour's from last time or that you used all the sauce to de-skunk the dog last week.

First, decide how big your lasagna will be and how many layers. Make sure you have enough noodles and sauce OR figure out how much sauce and how many noodles you have and decide how big your amazing two-hour hippie lasagna with clean laundry, clean kitchen and clean cook on the side will be from that.

This will help decide whether or not to pre-cook your noodles and chunky vegetables, or shred the vegetables (shorter baking time) or not (longer baking time), and when to add cheese if you're going to, etc.

Next, see what you've got for layer fodder and plan your layers OR decide what your layers are going to be and make sure you have those ingredients.

Think about which load of laundry you want washed and gather it if necessary.

Do you have a clean towel?

Is your favourite cup clean?

I made a vegan version ... I had: bottom layer - kidney beans (canned) and corn (frozen), middle layer - tofu, top layer - shredded carrots and sunflower seeds. I'm taking my lasanga on the road and had a few extra noodles, so I made sure I had lots of sauce, planned to grate an extra carrot and rounded up the laundry. Towel, check. Cup, check.

Okay, now we can start:

Two-Hour Hippie Lasagna

With Clean Laundry, Clean Kitchen and Clean Cook on the side.

Put the water for the noodles on to boil ... or don't, if you don't pre-cook your noodles.
I pre-cook noodles, so if you don't, make adjustments as you go - don't add yeast to thicken things up, add liquid to the sauce, whatever voodoo it is you noodle-non-cookers do.

Put your laundry in.

Prepare the layer ingredients (save the peels/ends ... freeze them and we'll make garbage soup with them next week) and sauce, give the pan a wipe, etc. Now's the time to shred, crumble, thaw, sautée and pre-cook things like carrots, beets, yams, tofu, cheese, meat, frozen vegetables, leeks, onions, mushrooms, or just open cans, if that's your preference. Somewhere in the middle of that, put the noodles in when the water boils ... take them out before they're fully cooked (2-5 minutes less than package directions).

If you have a lot of watery ingredients (raw spinach, a particularly juicy sauce, raw mushrooms, less-firm tofu, raw tomatoes), you can add some flake yeast on top of the sauce to thicken things a bit.

Spread some sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Then alternate noodles, layer, sauce, noodles, layer, sauce, 'til you run out of layers.
End with noodles, sauce, and melty-type cheese if you're going to use it.

Turn the oven to 350°F and put the lasagna in (nope, no pre-heating).
Set a timer for 20 minutes.
Wash the dishes.
If the dog/cat/toddler hasn't licked up the escaped shredded carrots and crumbled tofu, give the floor a quick sweep.
Put the kettle on.
Hang the laundry.
Make tea.
Turn the oven off when the timer goes, but leave the lasagna in.
Have a shower.
Take the lasagna out now if you plan to take it on the road, otherwise, leave it in.
Now is the time to put bread in to warm if you're going to serve it.
Toss the tea grounds/teabag in the compost.
Drink your tea while you build a salad or sit down to write out a recipe for a friend or e-mail your MLA again about allowing grey water recycling in your area.

The amazing two-hour hippie lasagna with clean laundry, clean kitchen and clean cook on the side is ready to serve.

23 March 2007

Salmagundi ...

Patty and the girls are in town, staying at the Grandma's in Leduc. This will likely be the last trip for this, as the Grandma is selling the condo and has moved into a room at a lodge. Since she's already moved, she has no phone, so cannot buzz anyone in without going downstairs. On Tuesday, we had a nice Equinox lunch there, with Barbara and Annailese, too. We went to the park afterwards, while the soup for dinner cooked, then had a nice dinner. Barbara and Annailese went home, Nina and Den came out, then I drove home in a blizzard. Hahaha! Springtime in Alberta.

Once I got back to the city, it'd nearly stopped, but was still snowing biggish snow splops.

Patty and the girls and Barbara and Annailese (and possibly Nina and Den) are going to have a sleep over at Chelsea and Darwin and Bernie's on Saturday night. I'll go out, too, but will have to come home to feed the beasts, so won't stay the night. I'm going to make a hippie lasagna. Both Patty and Barbara say, "Oh, I never precook the noodles," so I'm doing a l'il babby test lasagna, 'cuz my brain doesn't believe it'll work right with rice noodles.

Right after I got Epona's headlight bulb replaced, the front fender light lense went missing. Since replacing it means removing the fender, it's not a quick-fix, so it'll just hafta wait 'til it's time for Epona to go in for something else.

I made a batch of garbage soup - vegetable stock from peelings and ends, along with peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds and a bay leaf. After draining out the stock, I dumped the rest into the composter. Then I used the stock to make a hearty vegetable, lentil and barley soup. I love my pressure cooker.

Test lasagna update: the top noodles did not cook properly. I'm sure I could find a way to make it work, but I think for Saturday, I'll just cook the bloody things and be done with it. Oh my, that's tomorrow. Right, then. Off to get groceries.

More bloody hats:

The top right and bottom left ones are made from the koolaid-dyed yarns. Some of the others have some of those yarns mixed in as well.

Stuff and Nonsense ...

Length of day: 12:23
Hours of dark: 10:30ish
Sunrise: 7:30 am
Sunset: 7:53 pm
Start of twilight: 6:55 am
End of twilight: 8:28 pm

Current weather: Partly Cloudy. 4°C (39°F), wind S 20.8 km/h (13 mph), relative humidity 64%, pressure 29.74 in Hg.

Today.. A mix of sun and cloud. High 7°C.
Tonight.. Cloudy periods. Low -1°C.
Saturday.. A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming S 20 km/h late in the day. High 9°C.
Sunday.. Sunny. Windy. Low -1°C. High 6°C.
Monday.. Sunny. Low -9°C. High 3°C.
Tuesday.. Sunny. Low -10°C. High 4°C.
Normals for the period.. Low -8°C. High 5°C.

19 March 2007

Colour ...

1. Set timer for 2 miutes
2. Grab green things 'til it goes off
3. Everything must be in plain sight (not in cupboards, etc.)
4. Take picture

Happy Green Day
While I'm not Irish, I can't ignore a day that celebrates green!

Patty and the girls are in town for nearly two weeks. Yay! Jaime is here, too, but he has to leave again Monday or Tuesday. Aw!

I applied koolaid to the last of that turquoise yarn this weekend. I meant to take a picture of it all, once it was done, but some of it's still hanging to dry and I've knit some of it already. Oops. I also applied henna to my hair and elbow grease to various surfaces in the house, made a cat supplies run, and built a blog for Dande. Pretty laid back weekend, all in all.

14 March 2007

Leftovers and Something New ...

I just got a sliver in the palm of my hand and thought, "Damn! I wish it wasn't the right hand."
It occurs to me that if I'm going to wish, mayhap I could wish a bit bigger ... like maybe that I didn't have a big, honkin' sliver in the palm of my hand at all!

Cory, Linda and I put her bed up on lifts. Here she is as her Great Woobie persona, in the Kitten Cave:

Yup, it's really that green!

One of the hens laid this (the egg, not the other stuff), the last day I was there:

We took bets on how many yolks. Cory did not win with 2.5. Unfortunately, it smelled funny, so we didn't eat it.

Mary and Robin brought back white grapefruits, picked from the aunt and uncle's tree in CA. We don't get white grapefruit in stores here any more. Apparently, people would rather have pink (good, but not as good as white) or ruby red (can't see why anyone would bother). What a treat!

And that browny-grey blob is a bitty skein of yarn that I spun with a drop spindle ... my very first yarn ever! I spun it on Monday and plied it and washed it yesterday. It's lumpy and bumpy and not very good at all, but I'm so pleased with it and with the process. Today, I'm thinking about knitting with it. There isn't very much of it at all. I'm trying to decide whether to make a little sampler swatch with it or knit it into a hat for B's Diner or Dulaan. The wool came from a sheep named Oreo. It's so very soft!

10 March 2007

Drama ...

The drive home was a little surreal. I had the highway to myself until most of the way through Leduc. The roads were clear and dry 'til I hit 91st St ... then they were one big sheet of ice with the occasionall shallow puddle on top, from Ellerslie Rd. to Argyll.

I came home to find that Nina had had some drama, locked herself out, and broken a window to get in. I bloody hate drama.

Day Eight ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

Oats, apples, raisins, cinnamon, maple syrup, some with soymilk ... hot soymilk or soymilky chia for breakfast. Cory said the oats tasted different, but we couldn't figure out why. Ernie's the one who noticed that there were no chopped almonds in it. They each got a handful of raw almonds in a pocket. Everyone was well-rested and chatty this morning, everthing got done on time, noone was missing any last minute anythings. It must be Friday!

The dogs didn't come in at all, this morning.

It's another gorgeous day. The snow and ice are disappearing at a great rate. The snow that was in the weekend's forecast isn't anymore.

I washed floors and ran the dishwasher and did laundry and stomped around in the yard and visited the chickens and cat and horses and washed the eggs and had a shower and packed and started dinner.

Cory and Linda came home and computering ensued. I took Mary's vehicle to fill the tank, get peanut butter and a cucumber, and pick Ernie and his friend up from badminton at the school. We dropped the friend off at his house, then went home and finished making dinner - baked tofu and maki rolls. We finished up the chores and packing, relaxed a while, and then Mary and Robin got home (looking all relaxed, in spite of having spent the day travelling).

There was hugging and kissing and grapefruit picked a couple of days ago, stories and pictures and more hugging and kissing.

Welcome home!

Eggs: +11 for the day
Collected - 14
Eaten - 3
Discarded - 0

08 March 2007

Day Seven ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

We decided, the boys and I, that we sure hope the rest of the world doesn't judge us by the crappy comedians that manage to get themselves on TV. We're funny when we make fun of ourselves. We're not funny when we make fun of the U.S. I got some knitting done last night, too.

It has been brough to my attention that I neglected to mention that Cory, Ernie, and Linda decided to eat vegetarian for the week I'm here, and that Mary and Robin are reading this. That's why there's so much about what they're eating.

They had breakfast burritos and hot soymilk for breakfast. Lunches made and packed, dogs and chickens fed, last minute "Where's my ..."s done, and onto the bus two of them went. Cory got a ride with his friend, since he had to be there early for some more prep for that Scottish play. I had a little mango and pita with peanut butter, raisins, lettuce, and a shredded carrot. I'm stuffed to the gills.

Two out, two in, then the other one out ... the poor dogs are banished to the back hall until they dry off. It got pretty soupy out yesterday and it was drizzling when they came in.

Blue sky and puddles

And then ...


It's been very bird-y out. This morning (after the snow), I saw four partridges on the lawn, and two hawks circling. The trees are full of chickadees and sparrows and those smallish, almost-black birds whose name I forget. Up 'til yesterday, everyone was tweeping and cawing and squawking and twerdalerping along as usual ... yesterday, they started to CHEEP and CHIRP and CAW. The birds know ... and soon, your stalling won't fool us anymore, Winter. Spring is on her way and it's time for you to go to bed!

* * *

Cory had fun in that Scottish play. Linda said it was good. When you buy bananas, it's hard on the peanut butter supply. There was very little homework today. We had Head Salad for dinner again. Ernie's been snoozing on the floor, in the chair, and down on the couch ... gonna wake him up for bed, soon. Cory went to bed early. I'm not far behind. It turned out to be a gorgeous day! The dogs are soggy, stinky and full of energy.

Eggs: -1
Collected - 10
Eaten - 11 (yikes!)
Discarded - 0

07 March 2007

Day Six ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

According to babelfish, caliente is "it warms up" ... surprisingly appropriate.

Oats with apples, raisins, coconut, leftover coconut rice, cinnamon and maple syrup (and soy milk for some), and (soy)milky chai or hot soymilk for breakfast. Lunches made and packed , dogs and chickens fed, last minute "Where's my ..."s done, and onto the bus they went. Smiley, huggy morning folx, two chatty and one sleepy.

Showered, dishes done (hah! the one whole pot, spoon, knife and cutting board from the oats), yarn rinsed and hung up to dry, laundry started, and out the door to the city.

I stopped at home to check for mail (nothing interesting) and picked up a message from Rafe, so we met up at the grocery store after he ran his errand and I hit the gas station. We both ended up buying some perfectly ripe (some funny name that starts with an A) little mangoes ... free samples work if the product is that astoundingly good!

He wanted to show off his new toy, Wild Divine. I'm looking forward to seeing it in action when I get home. I've been drooling over it since he first showed me the site, ages ago.

Visited the chickens, cat, and horses, messed up the kitchen and cleaned it up again, folded an inordinate number of small clothes (my current theory is that she's been saving them up since Christmas for me).

Cory's staying at school today to help set up for that Scottish play tomorrow. Ernie disappeared downstairs to do his homework as soon as he got home.

* * *

Chili and the rest of Greek salad v2.0 for dinner. Linda had 4H, came home and crashed. Cory's havin' a chilling evening. Ernie disappeared downstairs again after dinner with his small mountain of homework.

Look at her ... you'd think she was personally responsible for the sunset.

Eggs: +16 for the day (uh oh!)
Collected - 16
Eaten - 0
Discarded - 0

06 March 2007

Day Five ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

As I tossed the last handful of chopped apple into the oats, my brain shouted, "Caliente!" It sounded very celebratory, even though I don't know what it means nor where I may have heard it.

Showers, two of the three came up looking for clothes to wear*, then oats with apples, cinnamon and maple syrup (and soy milk for some), and (soy)milky chai or hot soymilk for breakfast. Lunches made** and packed , dogs and chickens fed, last minute "Where's my ..."s done, and onto the bus they went. Smiley, huggy morning folx.

I call this one Wiggly Life With Yarn

Three out, two in. These two help me all day, by sitting on my feet, lying in front of the sink, stove, fridge, and in doorways, and running into the backs of my knees when I walk across the ice.

*Good thing I'd ignored the "Yah, I'm good"s and done a coupla loads anyway

**I made one of the lunches at 7:59 'cuz the bus comes at 8:03 and it wasn't made yet. No, he won't starve, but be damned if I'm going to send him to school without lunch or make the bus driver wait while he makes a lunch. He came up to make it at 8:01 ... prolly could have done it, but I got twitchy.

I was going to change the chickens' light bulb this morning, but Linda beat me to it ... so they have light again. They're already winning the egg race. Without Robin here to help battle the eggs, we could be buried in them by the end of the week. Speaking of conspiracies, I think the dogs make new matts overnight so they get fussed when they come in.

Dishwasher's run, dishes are washed, yesterday's laundry is folded, there's a load in the washer and one in the dryer, and a couple of skeins of yarn soaking in a koolaid and vinegar bath in the crock pot. We're out of fruit and laundry soap, so I'm off to The Village ... I'm doing my own version of the daily trip to Ralph's for groceries, except not in Palm Desert, and not Ralph's.

* * *

Dinner and tofu-for-sandwiches made, laundry loads switched just in time for smiley, happy chatty folx in the door. Linda finished the rest of the egg salad and started on her homework. The boys took their laundry downstairs, then did their thing for a while. They built smoothies when Linda came up for a break and we all watched TV together. I tried to keep the snide comments about the commercials down to one per.

Hippie Lasagna and Greek salad v2.0 for dinner. We've been watching an episode of season 1 of SG-1 each night. Linda had choir, we all did our chores and homework. Cory called leftover lasagna for tomorrow's lunch ... over tofu sandwich! I'm calling it a success.

Eggs: +9 for the day
Collected - 10
Eaten - 0
Discarded - 1

05 March 2007

Day Four ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

This is something I saw when I was where Mary and Robin are now (guess who didn't take any pictures today) ... taken with my phone.

Showers, then oats with apples, cinnamon and maple syrup (and soy milk for some), and (soy)milky chai for breakfast. Lunches made and packed, dogs and chickens fed, last minute "Where's my ..."s done, and onto the bus they went. Smiley, huggy morning folx.

I be'd domestic, gathered eggs, showered and headed home to see if the house was still standing (it was) and if there was any mail (there wasn't) and get groceries. I forgot to get light bulbs ... poor chickens ... though I'm not sure that's the issue.
There was no light on Saturday, so we checked (and adjusted) the timer, but there was still no light, so we checked extension cords and plugged the unplugged one back in, but there was still no light, so we figured we'd find the bulbs and change them on Sunday. \
On Sunday, the light was on, so we scratched the bulb-changing plans.
Today, there's no light on again. I think the chickens are messing with us, but I'll try changing the bulb tomorrow.

Smiley, huggy afternoon folx came home and hoovered up some leftover cabbage, tofu and oatmeal, along with anything else that wasn't nailed down. Greek salad (with bonus kidney beans) and falafel for dinner. Ernie went off to confirmation (I hope he has time to finish his homework after!), Cory's been sorting his room and homeworking, and Linda made a beaded snake for a friend, then helped me wind the yarn we dyed into centre-pull balls, and drew some pictures, then bed.

Eggs: +9 for the day
Collected - 16
Eaten - 6
Discarded - 1

04 March 2007

Day Three ...

at The Hormone Ranch

I went pelting out the door as soon as I got up this morning, 'cuz I suddenly thought, "What if I can't reach the pedals in Mary's truck? I'll have to take the kids to church one at a time in my car."

I can reach the pedals ... whew!

The fuel light is on ... ack!
Can I make it to the church and back and over to the Co-Op before running out? I dunno. Ernie and I consulted and decided better safe than sorry, so I went charging off to get fuel while Cory, Ernie and Linda got ready and had breakfast.

I saw a coyote in a field on the way ... cool!

The Co-Op was closed ... crap!
Keep going to The Village.

The Petro-Can was open ... and I made it without running out of fuel ... whew!

The Co-Op was open when I drove past it on the way back ... thanks, Coyote.

So I put gas in 'til the auto shut-off kicked in, went in and paid for the gas, and left. I was down the road before I realized I'd put in only a quarter tank. I didn't think anything of it, 'cuz that's about how long it takes me to fill the tank in my car. I probably let up on the handle and it shut off. Colour me dingbat.

Back in time to take The Three to church, after which, there was a flurry of egg sandwiches.

The yarn turned out nice.

Again, with the (mostly) reasonable negotiations, today.

Baked tofu, brown basmati cooked with coconut milk, curried cabbage with coconut, fresh tomato, avocado for dinner. Just enough tofu left for one lunch. Ernie called it.

Eggs: +3 for the day
Collected - 16
Eaten - 7
Discarded - 6 discarded

Day Two ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

Chores while the peppers and onions and musthrooms slow cooked for breakfast burritos. I would like to report that there was complaining and fighting and hair pulling, but the three indoor hormone contributors went about their Saturday morning routine matter-of-factly, negotiating, and even helping one another out. Afterwards, stuffed to the gills with breakfast burritos, there sas no biting or scratching or pulling of hair over computer time. Instead, there were (occasionally mildly sullen) negotiations and compromises. Saturday is their mellow day, so we mellowed, mostly ... 'puter games and music and we koolaid dyed some turquoise yarn.

We made Head Salad (salad as big as one's head) for dinner and ate them while watching Stargate, which Cory, Ernie and Linda hadn't seen. We talked to Mary and Robin on the phone again. It sounds like they're starting to relax.

Eggs: +1 for the day
Collected - 18
Eaten - 7
Discarded - 10

03 March 2007

Day One ...

... at The Hormone Ranch

After much charging about, getting ready, loading the car, acquiring fuel, rendering the windows transparent again, etc., I hit the road at 2:00 this afternoon. From the Hughes on 99th, it took me twenty-five minutes to hit the highway. After that, it was a lovely drive. I got here, found everything where Mary said it would be, unpacked, and got their computer to play nicely with mine before Cory, Ernie and Linda got home from school.

We made baked tofu and a small mountain of maki for dinner and ate it all.

Dogs got fed, chores got done, games got played, and everyone drifted off to bed as they got tired. It's just about my turn.

I took the cats to the kennel yesterday, and did a bunch of other running around and getting stuff ready at home. Wednesday was Mary's birthday. We went grocery shopping (woohoo! weirdo), then met Mona for lunch at B's Diner. I got a chance to take in some more hats. Brenda said she found the blog of someone who was taking apart knit things for yarn to make hats for them. She's going to double check it ... we think it may be this blog! Hah! Bob introduced Mary to a fellow who has a plant store across the way, so we went there afterwards. Tuesday, I turned in my keys at work, collected up my stuff, turned in time sheets, and had a visit with Chicken. A good day!