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Thursday, 14 October 2021

What I Am Reading

    Great day on the tennis courts this morning! I was actually feeling too hot by the time we finished just shy of 11:00 a.m. Kathy was the big winner today after two sets but I was lucky enough to be her partner for the second set so basked in her glory!

   On to my current reading material:

Set in Glasgow, Scotland ( and in my home town of Bearsden) it's a rather dark but intriguing crime novel with a very twisted ending. Recommended.

Every book list is agog with reviews of Sally Rooney's latest novel but I thought I would start with an earlier one. Set in Ireland, the characters in this one are far from "normal" in my opinion and I recommend it with some reservations. 

Set in France this one is highly recommended by a friend but I am rather sated with WWII stories.  The characters are mostly stereotypical  (cruel Nazis, beleaguered Jews, downtrodden but brave French).

   I would say the Sally Rooney book is the most well written with The Nightingale a close second.


Monday, 11 October 2021

Thanksgiving Monday

     Just a regular Monday for me as we had our big feast at daughter's house yesterday. That way she has a rest day before returning to work. There were seven of us and, as is our custom, we went around the table before we ate telling what we are thankful for - and there was a lot!

   It has been very summery this weekend and I finally pulled up the last of the kale plants. Now my vegetable garden is empty as that is the area the guys will have to dig up to fix my leaky basement. No word yet as to when that will happen but at least I am prepared. 

I got quite a good picking from the last kale plants and will use it tomorrow.


Saturday, 9 October 2021

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

    The stove is still not fixed but a part has been ordered - to come in `two to five business days`! With this being the Thanksgiving long weekend that means it will be at least the middle of next week until I can cook again.

   What to do in the meantime? First I figured I could get by with my toaster oven and microwave. That was OK for a couple of days but limited my choices of meals. However, today I got out my crock pot and simmered a big batch of stew all day. It is almost ready and smells delicious! 

   Also I realized my rice cooker can be used to boil or reheat loads of things. Today it was soup from the freezer and tomorrow I will use it to prepare the roast potatoes for the Thanksgiving lunch. Luckily daughter is hosting the meal at her house but my roast potatoes are on the menu by special request. I like to parboil them first and will take them to her house to roast. I`m sure I will think of lots of other tasty meals using these appliances. 

   I am trying to be philosophical about the whole experience (leaky tap, wet basement, falling down fence etc.) but have come to realize I have plenty to be thankful for, especially to be able to celebrate the holiday with family.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Expenses

    Expenses keep adding up. Yesterday my stove went dark (only way to describe it, nothing worked), but luckily, just as I finished cooking dinner. A guy is coming tomorrow to fix it (I hope!) but tonight it is leftovers heated in the microwave. The worst part is the initial visit is $120 just to evaluate the problem and give a quote. If I go ahead with the job that payment is deducted from the final bill. So, who knows what it will turn out to be. 

    However, I haven't heard back from the wet basement repair guys or the chap who is to fix my back fence, so no money laid out there yet. Maybe I can put them off until the Spring?

   I have decided to get a new liner for my pool as it is looking rather shabby and I suspect I have a small leak. That will be done in the Spring but, wouldn't you know, they want half the cost paid up front. I will try and put them off until next month.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Last Trip to the Dermatologist

    Final visit for treatment to my ear but - halleluiah! - I got the all clear and no need to return. I am so relieved, I wasn't even upset that I had to wait half-an-hour for my two minute visit. I skipped out of the clinic with wings on my heels, I can tell you!

    We had tennis planned this morning but it was a drizzly start. It has been on and off rain since Sunday and we were itching to get on the courts. However, we persevered, dried off the courts as much as we could and hit the ball tentatively for half-an-hour. Finally the drizzle stopped and the last hour was fairly dry. Not many opportunities to play before the courts are closed at the end of the month so we have to make the best of it while we can.

    One more thing to check off my "to-do" list - got the plumber here to fix a leaking tap and it took him literally 10 minutes to replace the leaking part. It was the line leading to the cold tap and he replaced the other one while he was at it. No charge as I have a Parts Plan with the energy company, well worth the monthly premium as plumbers here are expensive!  

    

Monday, 4 October 2021

The Last Barbecue

     I'm afraid I am not one of those hardy souls who BBQ all winter, so I had my last BBQ last weekend. Just sausages but they were yummy with a freshly picked corn cob. Yes, I did find the farmer who comes down here with his crop and sells it from the back of his truck.

Can't claim this beautiful display - it's one of my neighbours who definitely has a green thumb.
Another view of my neighbour's front border.

The barbecue sits on the front porch with this lovely planter. It comes indoors when the weather gets chilly.

It's just a table top BBQ and is stored in the garage for the winter
.

It's powered by this propane tank which is just about empty - it's done the whole summer.







Thursday, 23 September 2021

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    A day and a half of almost constant rain so I have been mopping puddles in my basement again. However, I have had someone come and look into the problem and they will be back to fix it relatively soon. In the mean time I am hoping for no more heavy rainfall as I am extremely tired of the constant mopping!

   I went back to have my ear checked this week ( I think I wrote about it earlier) - it was a basal cell carcinoma and, unfortunately, they didn't get the whole thing on the first visit so there was some more cutting and scraping, thankfully all under anesthetic. It wasn't as bad as the first time and should be all healed in a couple of weeks, fingers crossed.

    I was getting tired of the fish dishes I have been producing recently so tried something new the other night - curried fish with braised kale. It was quite good. It had shredded coconut in it which was an interesting addition.

It made quite a lot but I ate the whole thing! I added tomatoes and black olives to the fish (not in the recipe but a good addition). The white on top of the kale is grated Grano Padano cheese which I prefer to Parmesan, everything enhanced with a squirt or two of lemon juice.


Tuesday, 21 September 2021

The Fruits of Fall

    My mountain ash (Rowan) tree is ready but no sign of the robins. They have usually stripped it bare by this time. Folklore says that when there is an abundance of berries it is going to be a hard winter.



   One rose bush still blooming, this is one of my favourites as the blooms and the buds are so delicate.



Sunday, 19 September 2021

An End-of-Summer Right of Passage

    I have since had two swims (actually twice today so that makes three) as it has been a beautiful weekend. So happy I postponed the pool closure until next week. We often have a summery week late in September so that has been a definite bonus!

   I cleaned the pool yesterday so it won't be too disgusting when the pool guys come to partially drain it and put the cover on. That is always a sad day but at least my electricity bill will be reduced considerably, and the water bill as well. I couldn't survive the summer without a pool but it is quite an expensive luxury.


Still looking good!

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Easing Into Fall

    A lovely morning at the tennis courts, clear sky, mild temperatures, not much of a breeze and super friends. I was on the winning side for both sets for a change (on Tuesday I was the big loser) thanks mostly to my stalwart partners, so went home happy. We are still starting at 8:00 but that will have to change soon as the sun is rising later and is lower in the sky, making it difficult to see the ball for the first hour. 

   Senior's Day at the drug store so I walked down and picked up the mail and a couple of items. Always nice to get a 10% reduction although that barely amounts to the tax! Since then just gardening and reading outside, an easy day. The pool is still open but too chilly for a swim.

Monday, 13 September 2021

A New Week

   Tennis Grand Slams over for another year. The finals at the U.S. Open were both exciting matches but neither had predictable results. All players excelled themselves though. Now what will I do for entertainment?

   Today has been quiet as Mondays usually are. I didn't accomplish much but did walk down to the local polling station to cast my vote in the advanced poll. It was held at the Seniors Centre where I play Bridge, attend exercise classes and volunteer in the kitchen and, good news, they may be opening for "in person" activities later this month. Can't wait, I have really missed my Bridge group. Hope I remember how to play!

The last tomatoes - I pulled up the plants today. Strangely, for the first time in forever, I won't have any green tomatoes to ripen indoors.

This afternoon in the kitchen - bread just needs a final bake and Eggplant Parmigiana waiting to go in the oven next.


   

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Thunder and Lightning

    Don't know if I mentioned the big storm we had a couple of nights ago - trees down, power outages etc., but I just got some water in my basement that necessitated much sponging and mopping. I will have to have someone come and fix that REAL soon!

   As a result of all the rain I have been gung-ho to pull up all the weeds in between the driveway and the sidewalk. They came out a treat and the area got a good spray of "Weed Begone". This is something that needs to be done before winter as it makes shoveling the driveway so much easier if they are not there. Hopefully that is it now taken care of.

    The storm, unfortunately, brought down most of my gigantic sunflowers and some devious animal(s) had a field day feasting on the seeds. So that left a mess to be cleared up. I think it was probably raccoons, although the squirrels may have joined in. Either way, they had a real party. The remains are now in the composter but I wouldn't be surprised if that got raided too.  

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

A New Author

 ....new to me, that is.   It's Alex Michaelides, whose latest book, "The Maidens", I have just finished. It's a thriller/mystery with a very creepy component. If that is a type of story that appeals, give it a try. I have requested his earlier book, "The Silent Patient" which I'm sure will be equally compelling. Can't wait to get it!

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

A Final Summer Long Weekend

    Labour Day yesterday - as far as I was concerned it was just my usual Monday. In the past (before COVID) there would have been a social at the tennis club and a barbecue lunch, but that has gone by the wayside for the last two summers, along with the Victoria Day, Canada Day and Thanksgiving socials.

    However, I have been engrossed with the U.S. Open tournament in which Canadians have been doing pretty well and there have been some spectacular matches. Today I spent a tense 2 hours watching Leylah Fernandez make her way into the semi-finals. She has just turned 19 and is one of three teenagers into the quarter finals. If she goes no further she will have covered herself with glory, without a doubt. Another Canadian is playing tonight to move into the next round but it will be a nail-biter, for sure!

    I had to have minor surgery on my outer ear this morning for a growth and it is throbbing a bit, nothing that a glass of wine won't put right. I don't have any tennis until Thursday so, hopefully, by then it will be a thing of the past. I will go back in two weeks so the doctor can check that it is all gone. Fingers crossed! 

Friday, 3 September 2021

Maybe the End of Summer

    The grandkids were over today for what might be the last swim of the summer for them. The nights have been cooler this week and it takes about 3 or 4 hours with the heater running to get the temperature up to their standards. I will keep having a daily dip until the water is just too cold even for me.

The boys were in for almost an hour, Natalie not so much!

 She barely managed to get immersed. As you can see, her hair is still dry.

Elliot noticed this cardinal snacking on a cicada on the back fence.
 We had a fun afternoon while Judy was getting her classroom ready for the start of school next week.



Tuesday, 31 August 2021

A Display of Birds

    Much more comfortable today but, apart from an hour of tennis, a bit of gardening and my swim, I have been indoors watching the U.S. Open tennis tournament. It is on for the next two weeks so you know how I will be spending a big chunk of my free time! Lots of amazing players so sure to be several exciting matches.

   During the hot spell I was working on my newest (to me, from Valu Village) jigsaw puzzle, and finished it yesterday. I t was fun to do and I will definitely try it again.



Monday, 30 August 2021

A Good Buy

    These are the plant-based sausages I used for the sausage rolls. I fried one up and it did taste just like an actual sausage in both texture and taste. I would definitely recommend them. They are a bit more expensive than regular sausages but they were reduced for quick sale.

Their main ingredient is pea protein.


Sunday, 29 August 2021

Trying Something New

    Weather continues brilliant (or awful depending on your preference) with it still in the 30's. We are promised cooler nights next week which will help somewhat. We did have some heavy rain yesterday and it did go somewhat towards eradicating the drought. Another storm, please, that would really help! At least I haven't had to cut the grass much recently as it has basically gone dormant.

   I haven't done much gardening this month as it is just so hot out there, but have been keeping myself busy with reading and a jigsaw puzzle. Today I made sausage rolls with plant-based sausages. They look like the real thing but how will they taste? I will have a couple for dinner tonight.



Thursday, 26 August 2021

Still Suffering From the Heat

     Thunder rumbling around this afternoon, then the sky got really dark and it rained for about twenty minutes. Of course, back to blazing sun right after. We need a really heavy downpour, everything is so parched. I have been cowering inside as it is still up in the low 30's and not cooling off much overnight. No relief in sight. Later I will go and have a swim and will feel more like eating dinner. Cooking is out of the question!

Monday, 23 August 2021

Shouldn't Complain, but........

    Still very humid and steamy. I have given up on my daily walk as it is just too hot even early in the morning. Instead I have started to swim lengths each day - I'm up to twenty (the pool is small!) but that takes quite a bit of effort so I don't think I will be increasing that any time soon.

    We are still getting out on the tennis courts, usually from 8:00 a.m. to around 9:30. Sunday's game was interesting, Kathy and I took the first set 6-0. this is really unusual as, no matter what combination we play in, we are usually well matched. I guess the other two had a slow start. The second set (with a different combination) was much more even.

   I have shown off this hibiscus plant already but this is the first time it's had two blooms at the same time. Unfortunately it is losing leaves at an alarming rate, probably due to the hot conditions.



Thursday, 19 August 2021

August News

    Nothing much has changed in the last week. My pool heater isn't working again - the guys are coming tomorrow to fix it, hopefully - but it is still hot here so the water is reasonably warm and I am swimming every day. 

   Regarding one of the books I wrote about last week, The Bookseller of Florence, it is a non-fiction and extremely well researched and well written. However it is a heavy read (both physically and mentally), more like a text book than my usually reading fare. I have been to Florence so that aspect of it is interesting. I am plugging away at it - it's fascinating how much is known about people and events in 14th century Italy - but it is definitely not a light summer read!

   That's it for this week. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

The Heat Continues

    Still sitting here sweating - it is so hot and humid! I worked in the garden for about 10 minutes then had to jump in the pool!

    Yesterday's tennis was fine for the first hour (8:00 to 9:00) as it was overcast, but then the sun came out and we all wilted. Tomorrow it will be more of the same. I wonder how long we will last!

    Three more books from the library. This should last me over the weekend. I have just finished the Alexander McCall Smith book and would recommend it for a light but thoughtful read. The others were on some list or other so no idea what they will be like.

The bottom one is "The Bookseller of Florence" by Ross King.


Monday, 9 August 2021

Another Hot Spell

    Not much on the agenda today as it is so hot and humid. The humidex makes it feel like 40C! Judy and James dropped by on their way to (or from) somewhere else and James had a quick swim. Since then I have been hiding out indoors watching tennis on TV. The Canadian Open (women in Montreal and men in Toronto)  is on this week but I am quite happy to stay home and watch it in relative comfort. 

It is set to be hot all week until Friday when we are promised rain.


Saturday, 7 August 2021

Two Good Books

    A little rain this afternoon so I finished my current book and started another. After a period of nothing new arriving in my inbox from the library, three books arrived almost simultaneously, so I picked up one this morning, the others can wait. One good thing about the pandemic is that the library is currently not charging for overdue books.

  This is my third Mary Lawson books and I can tell I will enjoy it as much as the others. The others, which I have probably mentioned before, are "A Town Called Solace" and "The Other Side of the Bridge". All three are set in a small community in Northern Ontario and are packed with emotional, often tragic circumstances and complex family relationships that will stay with you after you finish reading.





  I finished this one today - a compelling tale of mystery and intrigue set in post WWII Eastern Europe, complete with spies, danger and human frailties. A good read.



o I picked up one today. 

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

More Grandkid Photos

    Gorgeous day today - hot but not humid. The family came over for lunch and stayed for a swim. After his marathon 30 lengths last week, James declared he was going for 100 this week. Keep in mind the pool is only 10 meters long. None of us thought he could do it but he did! He was pretty tired when he finished and really deserved his medal and prize of cake and ice cream. I'm sure he burned off enough calories with his swim, he's pretty skinny anyway.

Here he is with his silver medal (I didn't have a gold one)

This young man is 6'2" so we had fun trying to figure how tall the biggest sunflower is.


Thursday, 29 July 2021

Using Up Zucchini

   It rained all morning so no tennis today, but the afternoon was very pleasant, sunny but staying cool. I had a few errands this morning and spent some time in the afternoon pulling weeds. They came up easily because the ground had had a good soaking. I also made a pot of soup and baked a loaf in the bread machine, so a productive day.

     I made a low carb lasagna yesterday using zucchini slices instead of the pasta. Other than that I used my usual recipe, a layer of spinach and cottage cheese (with lashings of garlic) and a layer of meat sauce and mozzarella, topped off with parmesan. One recipe I found suggested grilling the zucchini slices to dry them a bit but the final result was quite wet. However, today it was much better. Next time I will grill them longer. I got five portions so three went in the freezer.




Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Camera at the Ready

    Got the pool heater fixed yesterday (those darn spiders - seemingly they are attracted to the smell of gas and built a nest in there) so the family came over for a swim. It has been cool overnight most of this week so it took a while to get the temperature up but they were both in and James swam 30 lengths. The pool is only 10 meters long but still that was an impressive 300 meters.


I now have two pumpkins - this is the larger one. Should be ready for Hallowe'en.



Not sure what this is but it was worth snapping.

I asked Natalie to stand by the sunflower to show how tall it is - she's about 5'7".


Almost ready to be picked. I've had quite a few cherry tomatoes already.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

First Sunflower

    Got rid of the rest of the giant zucchini to daughter yesterday - she and James came over for a chat and a swim although it wasn't very warm. She has lots of recipes so will use it up quickly.

   Tennis first thing today and it was much more pleasant, hardly humid at all and quite fresh. We weren't able to get a court next Sunday so it will be a day of leisure. The booking system is quite a good idea but, in the past, we would just show up and hope for a court. 

    Several of the sunflowers are developing "heads" but this is the first one to open. Still a while until the seeds ripen.



Monday, 19 July 2021

Tonight's Dinner

    I felt like something light for dinner tonight so went on a hunt through the fridge and in the garden. Voila!

Lettuce, cherry tomatoes and raspberries from the garden, nectarines, cucmber, feta cheese and olives from the fridge and needing eaten up. A match made in heaven and it was filling and delicious not to mention healthy to boot!


Saturday, 17 July 2021

Giant Zucchini

     Can't claim to have produced this mammoth specimen - a friend brought some to tennis yesterday and I was the lucky recipient of this beauty!



I made fritters with about one quarter of it (enough for three meals). Now what should I do with the rest? Suggestions welcome!

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Damp Basement

     After all the rain we had earlier this week, I was horrified to find puddles in my basement when I went down there this morning. It was actually in the crawl space so no furniture was damaged but some carpeting I had down there was pretty wet.

   Unfortunately, with the high humidity we have at the moment, it will take ages to dry out. I had to throw out some cardboard boxes which had soaked up quite a bit of the water, but stuff I had in plastic bags seems to be OK. It was a good reminder not to stockpile stuff down there so I will be doing a bit of decluttering soon.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

The Grand Tour

    As I have said before, I have a pretty small garden around the house. However, all the borders are packed with plants, mostly perennials, that are really blooming with all the recent rain. So, today's post is a tour around "the estate"!

I'm afraid I am not much of a photographer, but this will give you an idea of what's blooming today.

This perennial is called Balloon Flower (Platycodon Grandiflorus) - you can see the balloon shape of the buds before they open.

I have slipped in an indoor violet as it is blooming so spectacularily!

Echinacea and some Bee Balm.



Self-seeding sweet peas - they come up every year but are just one colour and have no noticeable scent. Very pretty, nevertheless.

Phlox and more Bee Balm.

My first attempt at Sunflowers - they have really reached new heights this week!

    I hope you have enjoyed this tour of my garden. Today we had two thunderstorms with more heavy rain so I expect things will have grown even more by tomorrow - and the grass needs cut again!
 



Friday, 9 July 2021

More Bounty From the Garden

     Considering I only have a small patch of garden set aside for growing food, things are producing well. Today it was raspberries, haricot beans (my first attempt at growing them) and a large scallion for tomorrow's breakfast omelet.

The raspberries will be my dessert tonight. I have been nibbling a few each day but this is the first substantial picking. I will have the beans tonight too, with a lamb chop, mint sauce and new potatoes. Yum!!
 
 Big excitement today! I finally got a haircut after 8 months. It is such a relief to have a neat head of hair again. My hairdresser has been worked off her feet this week (the first week of opening) so I am very glad she managed to fit me in. I just hope I don't have to go so long before the next cut!

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Everything's Growing Like Crazy

     Off to pick some lettuce leaves for a salad for my dinner, in between showers. We managed almost an hour of tennis first thing this morning before the heavens opened, and it has been raining intermittently all day since then. The garden is very soggy and there is lots of rain in the forecast for the next few days. No sign of any sun.

It's nice to be able to pick just what you need. Plus they needed thinning out.


   Susan came back for coffee after tennis (we were both slightly damp) and watched the tennis from Wimbledon, the women's semi-finals, two exciting matches. Tomorrow it's the men's turn and they should be exciting too.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

My Hectic Life.....not!

    Nothing much to write about today but realized it is some time since I last posted. Just the usual, keeping busy with chores. It was very hot for a couple of days so I wasn't even getting in my daily walks. We have had quite a bit of rain recently (hailstones on Monday!) so the grass needed a cut today. That took up most of the afternoon but now it looks so much better.

    Watching Wimbledon in the mornings - one Canadian still in the Men's draw so that makes things interesting. I actually prefer the Women's matches although there are no big names left in the draw apart from #1 Ash Barty. It will be interesting to see if she prevails! 

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Second Shot

    So glad to get my second shot yesterday, now just have to wait two weeks to be fully protected. It was easy and fast. Most of the family are coming up for their second shot too, except for one grandson who is needle-phobic. He will have to get both doses before school starts back in September so that is a worry. He really wants to be vaccinated but gets a terrible panic attack when confronted with the needle.

   Today is cooler so I got lots of gardening and other chores done. I went to a local village market but didn't buy much as it was all over priced and I wasn't entirely sure things were local! I don't think I will be going back.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Canada Day

    For our tennis game today we decided to wear our national colours, red and white. It was a perfect day for tennis, then home for a BBQ and swim with the family.





Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Getting On With Business

   Very hot on the tennis courts this morning but we played for an hour and a half.  A very welcome thunder storm and rain this afternoon but, although it cooled off for a while, it is still up in the high 20's.   

   Car acting wonky yesterday so booked it in at the dealership. Sod's Law, everything was working fine today! So, after checking it for an hour they sent me home - no charge, thankfully.

   Made a pizza from scratch for dinner today (dough in the bread machine). Can't wait to try it. It looks juicy and delicious!

That's today's batch of jam at the back of the stove - strawberry rhubarb.