Sunday, September 30, 2007

For those of you who wondered, there is a god

While inspecting the back of one of my Tim Tam packages yesterday I noted that printed on the package it said: Made by Arnott's for Loblaws (Montreal) Inc. Imported by Loblaws.


And then Cibele, my sister-in-law (now resident in Ottawa I might add - woohoo!) said that they were always on the shelves of her Regina Superstore. Of course, we all know that Regina is the epicentre of all things good and unattainable here in Ontario.
So, I started to wonder. Will Tim Tams start being a staple on Loblaws' shelves right here in little old Ottawa? I did the logical thing. I went to Google. I found this posted just a few days ago on a blog called Chowhound:

Tim Tam good news!

Hey all.

I have been pestering Loblaws and Dominion for a while now with emails requesting Tim Tams.

The latest email I got back had this to say

Dear Gnaremoob,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

These cookies produced by Arnott's will be carried by our stores, and will be readily available by early November. Please visit your local store at this time for further information.

We look forward to serving you in our stores.


Loblaws Supermarkets


Maybe this means I can stop rationing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tim Tam Update

Looks like someone else discovered the bounty at Loblaws. I just got back and they're all gone. I'm not surprised. There had to be someone else in South Keys that knew what they were all about.

Fiddling around

You've probably noticed my new banner. I'm starting to (finally) learn Photoshop. Nothing like being ahead of the curve, eh?

It's fun. The new banner is not perfect but I like where it's headed and I like playing around. Really, the possibilities are endless. I have a couple of issues: sizing it so that it works in the stretch template (I've had to changed my template to a fixed size for now) and adding colour and undoing steps is a challenge for me but I imagine I'll figure it out as I get more comfortable.

The photo I chose might seem odd at first glance. It's a photo of India's first female rickshaw driver. It just seemed to fit well with what "Virtually There" means to me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The good, the bad and the downright ugly

Today was, for the most part, a great day with my girls. Hope was in a reasonably good mood. She has been on the wrong side of cranky most of the week. This stems from two things: (1) I've started to refuse to breastfeed her in the night. She's almost 13 months old, for the love of Pete. I don't want to breastfeed her in the night anymore. So, I'm not. This is not translating into more sleep for either of us so far. It is translating into some heavy-duty crying and a pretty pissed-off little kid. It is slowly getting better however and she seems to get what's going on. She doesn't like it, but she gets it. She's also eating better during the day as a result. A definite plus. (2) She just got her sixth tooth.

That paragraph ended up much longer than I had planned. And so it goes.

Emily was absolutely perfect today. She was enthusiastic about everything, she was great with Hope, she was (as usual) very affectionate and just thoroughly happy about life. We got some time this morning just the two of us. We went grocery shopping, picked up some very cheap pumpkins and then came home and made homemade lemonade. She's been wanting to do this for a few days. It stems from a Barney episode she is currently obsessed with into.

I made a simple syrup. Emily squeezed the lemons. I finished squeezing the lemons. It turned out to be delicious. We poured two glasses, I retrieved Hope from her crib and we all went downstairs to watch Emily's favourite channel: Food Network. And I'm not even kidding.

So, that was the good. Now for the bad. I was walking down the basement stairs lemonade and Hope in hand. Emily was behind me by a few stairs. We were almost at the bottom when my feet went out from under me, my lemonade flew up in the air, Hope flew out of my arms (kind of) and I hit the stairs ass first, arms flailing, body twisting. It was a bad fall. I didn't completely drop Hope. I still had her by the bottom half of her body. Unfortunately (and that is a huge understatement) her head hit the corner of the wall pretty hard. My heart was pounding, my ass and arms were hurting but mostly I was really worried and scared and feeling so guilty (not that I could have done anything differently). Emily was crying and scared. Hope was screaming. A lot.

I took her upstairs and applied the miracle arnica gel to her forehead. It helped a lot but she has a pretty good red mark and bruise but little swelling. Emily recovered well. Hope did too after a few minutes. I'm still pretty shaken. It could have been a lot worse.

The wall looks like something out of CSI. The lemonade splatter is impressive. Up to the ceiling and covering two walls. The point of impact is clear. You don't need Grissam to point it out.

Onto the ugly. I was in Loblaws today, our local big grocery store, grabbing a couple of things when I spotted what I can only describe as a miracle in a shopping cart. I was walking to the cash when I happened by one of those carts full of discounted stuff. It was full of these:

Each package was $1. I'm not joking here. $1. I grabbed 8 packages. I'm not joking about that either. And you know what? I'm probably going to go back tomorrow and grab more. Maybe 8 more.

Don't know what these are? These are Tim Tams. A Tim Tam looks like this:

It is Australia's answer to all this is unholy and good. It is so decadent and will undoubtedly precipitate a very ugly period of gluttony in this house. And why? Aren't they just chocolate biscuits?

Oh, they are so much more. They are the beginnings of the Tim Tam slam, the only proper way to eat a Tim Tam. If you haven't experienced it, well, you think sex is good? Hah, you don't even know. Here's the thing though: you can't buy them at Loblaws. Or anywhere in Canada for that matter unless you happen into an import shop and there I have paid almost $7 for one package. I got 8 packages for $8. I don't know what gods were looking after me today but they somehow delivered cheap Tim Tams to my Loblaws where clearly no one knew what they were or the potential they held.

Maybe those gods new that my sore ass needs some more padding for the next time I'm headed to the basement.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's been a while but....

the lack of a good poop post couldn't last forever now, could it? (According to my grammar prof that there is a tag question. See? You can teach an old dog new tricks.)

This morning I stuck the usual cloth diaper on Hope but somehow she leaked through it in, oh, I dunno, as much time as it takes to walk between her room and the basement. So, I took it off and started to put on a new diaper when she pulled her patented "twist and run" move. This is where I try and get a diaper on her, she twists the bottom half of her body around so that she can quickly crawl out of reach. If I try and twist her back into position, well, all bloody hell breaks loose. I decided to risk it diaper-free. She had just peed and she only poops late in the day. This is where, if there was a soundtrack to this post, you would here: Dah-dah-DAH in loud, scary music foreshadowing what you know is coming.

Emily and I were playing grocery store. Hope crawled over, I'm not kidding, one minute after I took her diaper off. There is something on her leg. I know. I know exactly what it is. My eyes dart over to where she had just been standing and OH MY GOD. It is the biggest pile of raisin poop that I've seen since, well, since Emily ate raisins at that age.

If you haven't experienced raisin poop, let me describe (you knew I would). Runny and yet solid. Peppered here and then with whole raisins. And the smell, my God, the smell. Louise, daycare provider number one for Emily, used to describe it as the consistency of raisin pie - that was raisin poop at its worst. Today's scat was somewhere in the middle of the grossness scale for raisin poop.

I grabbed Hope in strategic locations to limit the poop transfer, cleaned her up, applied a diaper (while wishing to God that I'd had more resolve and just forced it on her a few minutes before), made Emily vacate the basement and then armed myself with a cloth diaper, a lot of wet wipes, paper towels and nasty chemical carpet cleaner.

Then I called Sears. They're coming next Thursday to clean the carpets. Best $100 I'll ever spend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why blogs slow things down

(I had to get this out. WCW post is just below this. Don't miss out on some great pizza!)

I don't mean that my blog slows me down or is a chore. What I mean is that when I don't blog, I feel a bit like life is passing me by. This is because I'm continuing to see the kids change, grow, accomplish new things, be funny, be nasty, have runny noses, all of it but none of it is down anywhere. I'm relying on my memory to capture it all and you know what? That sucker just isn't that reliable anymore. Ask John. He'll tell you.

Emily's first year is not captured on a blog, in a diary (okay, the first couple of months are in a journal but after that my hand got sore). I really regret that. I have lots of great memories of that year, and lots of not-so-great ones, but as time goes on, they're fading. Some still stand out vividly but the regular days, the ones you sometimes cherish the most... they're going and it makes me sad. I don't want that to happen again.

Since my posts have slowed down to a distinct crawl over the past few weeks, I've really felt a hole in my days, which has grown into a hole in my creativity and from there a hole in myself. I know this sounds awfully grandiose and over-the-top dramatic, but I really feel a bit dismayed by it all. I really do feel like a very close friend has left town and damn do I miss her.

God, it feels good to write again. I feel myself relaxing and I feel happy. Even joyous. Like I'm in the right place. Or the write place.

I have a lot to say. A lot of it is about the kids, of course. This is a damn Mommy Blog after all. But I also want to talk about the summer at the cottage, fall, the class I'm taking, thoughts on the future, all the usual stuff I go on about here. Ad nauseum.

But man, have I ever missed that nauseum.

Baby, I sure hope I'm back cuz this feels so write.

What's cooking Wednesday

It's been a full week since I've posted. I don't think that has happened since before Hope was born. I'm not going to wax on (again) about how I have no time to myself right now. Clearly I have some because here I am. However I'm using toothpicks to keep my eyelids open right now in order to type this week's WCW entry. You see, Hope doesn't sleep much. Last night I was up for most of the period between 2 and 5. Turns out she was cold. That was a blip on the screen. What is really keeping me up is that fact that she wants to breastfeed during the night, multiple times, and I've decided that it just doesn't fly with me anymore. I'll leave it at that for now. It's another post. I'll probably get it up by this time next year.

On with the show.

I love this time of year. Everything is ripe and ready and juicy and wonderful. Being a total tomato lover, you can easily see why I love this time of year. Two weeks ago we went to the Carp Farmer's Market on Saturday and we bought this:

Yeah, it was that big. And it was that good. We'll be going to Carp again this Saturday and maybe every Saturday until it closes for the season.

So, this week, I wanted to feature some of the fine produce coming out of Ontario's farms right now. And so I present to you Feta Spinach Pizza.

1 pizza crust of your choice - prebaked, homemade unbaked, whatever
10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed and coarsely shopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
ground pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced or 6 cherry tomatoes cut in half

Preheat oven according to how you need to cook pizza depending on what crust you chose. I made pizza dough so I baked it at 400 convection (450 regular oven) for about 20 minutes. It was just right.

Saute spinach in oil on high heat for several minutes until wilted. Drain spinach and press out any excess moisture. In large bowl, combine everything else except tomatoes.

Spread mixture on pizza crust, and top with tomatoes. Bake.

If you like spanakopita, you'll love this. It is pretty much spanakopita pizza. John and Emily wouldn't stop raving.

Yes, Emily likes spinach that much. Yes, I realize how blessed we are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday

For this week's What's Cooking Wednesday, I am fully in the spirit of WCW and I tried a brand new recipe this week. It is from one of my favourite cookbooks, Crazy Plates, however although I had this recipe flagged, I'd never made it before.

It is a total winner. Everyone loved it - Emily, John and I. In fact, I had thirds. I really don't make many casseroles although I've been on the lookout for interesting one-dish recipes to add to my repertoire. This one has definitely made it into the rotation. Not only does it taste great, it's pretty easy to make and it is really healthy - brown rice, people! Black beans!

The Whole Enchilada (chicken, rice and black-bean enchilada casserole)

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups salsa
4 tsp chili powder
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups each chopped, cooked chicken and cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (19 oz)
3/4 cup each diced carrots and diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsps each lime juice and chopped, fresh cilantro
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
sour cream to garnish

1. Combine tomato sauce, salsa, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin and oregano in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken, rice, beans, carrots, red pepper, onions, lime juice, cilantro, remaining chili powder and cumin in a large bowl and mix.
3. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange 6 tortillas over bottom, overlapping as necessary. Spoon another 1 cup of sauce on top. Top with 1/2 of chicken-bean mixture and 1/2 of cheese. Arrange remaining tortillas on top. Top with another 1 cup sauce, followed by remaining chicken mixture and remaining cheese. Spoon any remaining sauce on top.
4. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with sour cream.

Serious yum! It makes a lot - enough to put some in the freezer.

Big news in Bytown

The weekend just before I went to Texas, we went to the cottage. We hosted John's whole family there. We've done this a couple of times before at the end of the summer to celebrate John's mum's birthday. She turned 65 this year. We haven't done it in a few years due to schedules and due dates of babies (mine) but this year it worked out and we added Emily and Hope's birthdays to the celebrations.

The weekend had a few big moments. The two biggest came from John's brother, Mike, and sister-in-law, Cibele. We all new they were being transferred from Regina to somewhere. Mike works for GM and is transferred every year as part of a management trainee program he is in. They got, from our perspective, the best transfer location they'll ever receive: Ottawa. I literally jumped and screamed when they told us. It has been a long time since we've lived closer than 4 hours away from family. This is huge for us from a completely selfish perspective. Just to have someone to call when you need a little help is giant, the fact that it is Mike and Cibele, is even better. Their second big moment came when they told us all they are expecting their first baby in May. They'll be having the baby while they're in Ottawa. We hope that we'll be able to help as much as we can.

This year is going to be so different in so many great ways.

Third big moment, perhaps not as deeply meaningful but certainly as surprising: I woke up to feed Hope at about 6:30 on Sunday morning that weekend. The windows were all open. I heard what I knew to be an animal dragging a bag of garbage behind our cottage. I figured it was raccoons again and someone must have left our shed open. Before going outside to scare them off with a broom I looked out the back window in our bedroom that directly overlooks where the noise was coming from. I'm so glad I did. About three metres away from where I stood was a big, brown bear having his way with that bag of garbage. He was close enough that I could hear his lips smacking as he finished off a chip dip container. The garbage wasn't ours - it was our neighbour's (which meant we were off the hook for cleaning it up). I watched the bear for about 20 minutes (after waking John up so he could take a look). In my life, I'd never heard that a bear has come so close to the cottage (and been seen, that is). This was monumental.

I stopped our neighbour (owner of the garbage) from going back there with a shovel (he assumed it was porcupines). John tried to snap a photo but just got a big black photo. My real concern was that John sister and her family were staying outside in a tent trailer. Luckily the bear meandered over to the barbecue, took a sniff and then left.

I'm sure he's been back since we've been gone, looking for more bounty. Being that were going up this weekend for our last visit of the year, we may see him again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Still not a spare moment

Things in this house, most particularly with the two kids, seem to be changing on a daily basis and I haven't had time to get any of it down. Grrr!

I promise myself to get something down before it is gone forever into the wasteland that is my grey matter.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A spare minute

Leftover stew reheating on the stove. Dumplings on top.

John playing with the kids.

Reading for my course halfway done.

Sunday school lesson totally not prepared in the least. (Yes, I'm teaching Emily's S.S. class but only once a month. Feeling a bit like a fraud. Luckily it is pretty much crafts and snack.)

Blog ignored. Wish I had more time. Can't even write complete sentences.

Hopefully more later.

Good week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday

Wow, it's really been a long time since I've been a true participant in WCW. I wasn't planning on taking a summer hiatus. It just worked out that way. With my trip to Texas under my belt, I really feel that fall is upon us and it is back to our regular routine.

I tried a brand new recipe this week out of one of my newer cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I've tried a few others out of this book and always to rave reviews. Tonight's recipe rates only a B, maybe a B+. John liked it a lot more than I did. On paper it looked really interesting but failed to wow me as I expected it to. Having said that, if you accidentally end up with two dozen eggs in the fridge after a miscommunication between you and your partner and you are running short of time, this recipe may be just what you are looking for.

Asian-Style Frittata

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 stalk of broccoli, peeled and diced (I used a whole stalk with the top and just minced it all up)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 medium red or green pepper, finely sliced
4 large eggs
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root

1/2 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry or rice wine (I didn't have this so I just didn't put it in. Maybe it would have turned the recipe completely around. Who knows?)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp cool water

In large skillet on medium heat, saute the onions in the oil for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and broccoli and continue to saute for 3 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and peppers. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the soy sauce and ginger. (I must add here that when I added the eggs to the pan in the next step I realized that 4 eggs were definitely not enough so added two more. You may just want to add six eggs at this step and avoid the panic that I had when I was overwhelmed by vegetables and underwhelmed by eggs.)Pour the eggs over the veggies and cook on low heat, covered, until the eggs are set, about 6 minutes.

While the eggs cook, make the suace. In a small saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil and green onions to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cool water and stir into the simmering sauce. Stir until the sauce thickens and then remove it from the heat.

Serve the frittata drizzled with the sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Austin: Final thoughts

The last few days have been a bit of a blur since I've been home, so much so that (you may have noticed) I've barely spent any time here but I have a few posts that I really need to get out: my last day in Austin and things I want to remember from the 10 days there, the weekend at the cottage with the Walsh family just before I left for Texas, Hope's first year and Emily's 3rd year. Three of those posts are getting long in the tooth but I'll get them up anyway, hopefully this week. For now, I'll just reflect on the last day in Austin, my atrocious trip home (actually worse than the trip there) and things I'll remember from my time with Beth, Graeme and Kate.

I did manage to do a good amount of cooking on Wednesday. At the end of the afternoon we met Graeme at the Austin Farmer's Market at The Triangle, very close to Beth and Graeme's house. It was a very cool mix of vendors, decidedly part of the Keep Austin Weird movement. We had some amazing hibiscus iced tea, I bought a few gifts and had a chicken taco - supper was on its way but it was my last chance for a proper taco before returning to The Land That Cannot Produce a Taco to Save Its Life.

That night Beth's friends, Marlene and Will, joined us for our meatball and linguine supper. Hope was in bed early again - she was routinely going to bed between 7 and 7:30.

The next day, after Westley's walk, I started packing and cleaning. Hope had a nap and then it was time to get to the airport with a quick stop at HEB for fresh tortillas to take home with me. I put 60 tortillas in my suitcase. We made pretty good work of one pack already. Can someone please explain to me why no store makes fresh tortillas here? There just isn't a sufficient explanation.

Everything started off well for my trip home. The flight leaving Austin was on time and to top it off I had a Salt Lick brisket sandwich while I was waiting to get on the plane. Everything was going according to plan. Then we approached Chicago and due to bad weather were in a holding pattern for almost an hour before the pilot felt it was dangerous to continue to do so and flew us to Peoria, Illinois to refuel. I have a feeling the Peroira airport doesn't get a lot of action (aside from some military flights). We were the only plane there. The pilot lightened the mood by announcing "we were first for take off." At least it got him a few laughs. We were back in the air and were supposed to have a landing slot. Turns out O'Hare changed its mind again so we circled Peoria for another 40 minutes. Beautiful area, very agricultural, got to know it well.

Finally we started back to Chicago. When we got in landing vicinity we were again put in another holding patter, for another 40 minutes. It was at this point that Hope started to get agitated. She started her intermittent screaming that is her way of entertaining herself when she is annoyed or bored. By this point in the never-ending flight from hell, I had fed her twice, read her every book I had brought - twice, breastfed her, sang her every song she liked - twice, and taken her to the bathroom - twice. So, when the woman in front of me turned around and asked me if there was anything I could do to keep Hope quiet, I was pretty damn close to committing air rage and in fact would have been happy to have been escorted from the aircraft at that point had I not been 20,000 feet or so in the air. My response was controlled but I told the woman with the horrendous hair squishy to shove it in pretty polite terms.

I later heard her ask the attendant for a Tylenol. I stewed and steamed about Hair Squishy the rest of the flight. I couldn't believe she had the nerve to tell me that Hope was screaming in her ear and that it was annoying when she was completely oblivious to the fact that I'd been keeping her from screaming for the previous two hours. Hope did extremely well considering we were in the air a full two and a half hours longer than we should have been, pointed out by a really friendly, non-hair squishy group of Texans deboarding after the whole debacle was over.

When we did finally land at O'Hare it was 7:15. My flight for Ottawa left at 6:00. I got on the next flight for Ottawa which was supposed to leave at 8:55. It was delayed as was everything leaving or coming into The Airport Which Shall Not Be Named. Hope climbed up and down her carseat while I ate really brutal pizza and chatted with a group of Canadians who had flown down to be on The Oprah Show. My flight finally left at 9:55. We landed at 1:00. Again I got flack for not having a letter saying I was allowed to leave the country with Hope on my own. The Canadian Customs Guy was really nice about it, a much different approach than his American counterpart, but he had to go out into the arrivals area and ask John if he had permitted me to leave Canada with Hope. John said Customs Guy seemed embarrassed that he had to do it, like he thought the whole system was ridiculous. You know what? It is. Why would I need a letter to bring Hope back home? Completely fubar.

From now on I'm going to have a letter saying I can accompany Hope just when I leave the house, just in case I run into someone who asks.

I was in bed at 2:00. Emily was in our room around 7:00 and it was an awesome reunion. I snuck up behind her. I'd been feeding Hope. Hope was crying and I heard Emily saying to John: What's that noise? I tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped into my arms. We snuggled in bed and have pretty much replayed that every morning since.

It was a great 10 days in Texas. There are lots of things I'll want to remember when I think back to my time there, in absolutely nonsensical order:
  • walking through Beth's humid neighbourhood every morning while Westley explored everyone's yards
  • picking up groceries at FreshPlus almost everyday
  • jumping off the bed to catch the on-off switch on the ceiling fan/light in my room
  • the morning wake-up: Hope would come into bed with me to breastfeed then she would explore the bedroom while I tried to sleep a little longer
  • iChatting with Emily and John every night while Hope ate her supper
  • Hope beelining it to anyone using a laptop and banging the keyboard
  • Hope putting all the laptop cables over her head like clothes and being so proud of herself while she did it
  • helping to get Kate to sleep using the Chinese Bum Pat
  • Kate swaddled and asleep on the Boppie
  • Hope always stealing Kate's blanket
  • Hope constantly poking, kissing or touching Kate if Kate was in the vicinity
  • how Hope and Westley got really comfortable with each other as the week went on
  • Westley finally kissing Hope's nose every time he walked by her
  • Losing my wallet off the top of the car at REI and the very nice woman, Laura, who returned it
  • Hanging out at the Austin Farmers Market, drinking ice tea and watching Hope pour the ice on Kate's head.
  • Beth and Hope dancing together at the Austin Farmers Market
  • getting really good dark chocolate almost every day
  • tea with Beth
  • helping Kate have her first bath at home
  • Hope's jealousy while I would hold Kate
  • watching the Up Series with Graeme at night
  • being a mummy with Beth. That's just very cool.
  • buying a suit with Graeme at Neiman-Marcus that cost more than my first car
  • eating granola and yogurt for breakfast every morning
  • getting wicked blisters from my new shoes
  • Hope emptying Beth's Tupperware drawer daily, sometimes a few times daily
  • cleaning out Beth's fridge
  • Graeme yelling "HELP" while Kate's poop sprayed all over the diaper change pad
  • the possum. Enough said.
  • Hope turning Westley into a dog who looked for people food after she fed him yogurt off her spoon
  • watching the turtles swim behind The County Line BBQ
  • the rain and rain and more rain.
It was a great 10 days. I'll think about it often for a very long time.

Having said all that, it's good to be home.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A baby no more

Hope turned 1 today. I can't believe it's been a year. It seems longer than that and yet so much shorter.

Happy birthday my sweet pea. I love you with every inch of my being.

She celebrated as every new toddler should.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tuesday in Austin

Somewhere along the way I've missed a day or something because based on my previous posts yesterday's event should be titled Austin Day 7 but actually it was my eighth full day here. So we're going to days of the week instead.

Last we heard from our heroine, she had deposited a possum carcass on the side of the road. Unfortunately, the City of Austin completely let me down. By 5:00 the carcass was still sitting there. By 6:00 another animal had dragged it upu the lawn and gutted it. By 6:15 there was a nasty odour and exposed entrails.

By 6:30 Graeme was digging a hole in the back yard.

This morning I did the usual walk with Hope and Westley and then while Hope was napping, I rode Beth's awesome red bike - huge fat tires, no gears, coaster brakes, giant seat - to Central Market for groceries. I'm making some stuff for the freezer today and meatballs for supper tonight.

On with the cooking!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Austin Day 6

I walked a different route through Hyde Park yesterday on my morning walk with Westley and Hope. I'm really getting to know Beth's neighbourhood well, which will be great during future visits. It's nice to feel that everything is familiar and that you can step out the door and be confident that you won't get lost. Of course, having the streets in a grid helps, too.

After Hope's (short) nap yesterday all of us loaded up to go buy a suit for Graeme who has to go to a funeral this week and, turns out, has never owned a suit. He found a great suit, an Armani suit, the most beautiful men's suit I've seen. Let's just say you get what you pay for.

After that, some friends of Beth's, Matt and Heather, brought over a yummy supper. During their visit, Westley tried to run head first through the patio door. I figured he must have seen another possum, Austin's answer to other cities' rats. They are truly vermin with rat-like tails and big furry bodies. They scavenge for anything and this particular one seemed to have been interested in Westley's pig femur that he left in the back yard. I spotted the possum near the back gate. He was shuffling backwards and making weird yakking motions with his mouth. Matt said he was about to play dead, a possum's well-known defence mechanism. He did just that. He keeled over on his back and lay there. I checked back thirty minutes later and he was still laying there. I suggested he was actually dead. Everyone laughed at me and said that I'd been taken in by the possum. Check out the photo and you be the judge. Are you taken in? Do the flies on his face maybe just a little bit make you wonder?

After confirming with the experts that he wouldn't move if I approached him, I took a couple of photos. I noticed a few flies on his mouth. I mentioned it to the crowd inside. Matt said: "Pretty convincing, isn't it?" I still was suspicious that this possum was not playing possum. Really, why would the flies be in on the ruse?

Two and a half hours later Graeme started to see my side of things. He went out to take a look and (against my advice) took Westley with him. Westley beelined it to the possum, shook him around and flung him back on the ground while Graeme was yelling at him to let it go.

Graeme agreed. The possum was dead.

He's still out there this morning and most definitely dead. We have a number of theories on what did him in. I think he choked on something . He was doing that weird backing up, yakking motion. Maybe it was a heart attack when he saw Westley run into the door. Now we're presented with an opportunity as I see it. Late last night Graeme and I were googling Fried Possum. It's amazing how many recipes are out there. Tomorrow is Wednesday after all and I'm on the hunt for a new recipe.

Edited to add: I just called the City to remove Beth's dead possum. I had to carry said possum to the curb. I feel so distinctly Austonian right now and just a little bit Texan.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Austin Day 5

Yesterday we started the as usual - taking Westley for a walk. This time my destination was The Flight Path, a coffee house north of here. The walk took me through the north end of Hyde Park, the area these guys live in. Some of the houses were spectacular but were often next door to some pretty nasty and run-down places. It seemed to be a mix of big money and student housing.

I didn't accomplish much around here yesterday. I was feeling really tired. Beth had a massage in the afternoon and while Hope had her afternoon nap, I visited with Beth's friend Marlene who brought over plum kuchen.

We had had plans to go to Batfest yesterday. According to the website I read it is Austin's largest outdoor festival, which is saying something. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate - it poured rain in the mid-afternoon and then drizzled the rest of the day. We figured most of the vendors and bands had packed up.

We went out for barbecue last night to The County Line. The County Line is known for its beef ribs. It didn't disappoint. The amount of food on our table was obscene. And we only ordered two entrees between the three of us. We didn't come close to finishing it all. Hope was a bit of a nightmare at the restaurant, which is a scary pattern that is starting to emerge. The last three times I've had her in restaurants, she's been pretty awful. She wouldn't eat anything last night and then wanted out of her chair right away. Eventually she played on the floor under our table. After that grew tiresome (after about 5 minutes), I took her outside to look at all the turtles swimming near the restuarant's dock. That was very cool. There had to be 100 turtles back there of all sizes. Eventually more customers came out and started to feed them.

Back at home, Hope refused to go to bed after she peed on her Grobag (her sleeping sack thing). So, while it was being washed, I cleaned Beth's bathroom and Hope played. We both were finally in bed by 10:00. I hope today is better.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Austin Day 4

I took Westley and Hope for a good walk this morning. I decided to put Hope in Beth's Chariot and reduce my sweat a little this morning. I walked over to HEB, a big grocery store here. I picked up a couple of things for Hope and some potatoes for supper.

The rest of the morning was relaxed. I cleaned out Beth and Graeme's fridge, meanwhile Rose has cleaned mine out at home (thanks, Rose!). It's all even steven. After lunch we went to a huge electronics store - Fry's. The place is enormous. I bought two DVDs for Emily - Find Nemo and a Veggie Tales DVD - and The Sound of Music, which I've wanted for a while. With the great exchange rate and the lower prices I definitely came out ahead. I also (finally) replaced my crappy card reader. I'll try it out later.

After Fry's we went to Costco, ate cheap hot dogs and pizza for lunch and then shopped. Graeme got some amazing lamb chops for supper. They were superb.

Hope is now crying in her crib - she is having a really hard time going to sleep tonight, likely because she had a late afternoon nap and also because she is damn stubborn. This is my second attempt to get her to bed. After the first try, we sat down together to talk to John via video through iChat. I've said it before, but Macs just rock. I've talked to him the last 3 nights via iChat and last night I even got to talk to and see Emily. That was so important to me. She's having a hard time right now. Me being away is really having an affect the last two days. I feel terrible for her as well as for John and Rose who are on the receiving end of her anger and saddness. I wouldn't do this differently, I just feel so sad for my girl. I want to hold her and not let go. For a long, long time. I miss her to the depths of my soul. At the same time, I'm so glad I'm here and I'm glad I'm here for a while I just wish it was easier on Emily.

Hope is finally asleep - she cried herself there but it wasn't bad. I'm going to head there soon too. Tomorrow morning I'm going to take Westley and Hope on a walk to a coffee destination. We really don't have any plans after that until evening when we're probably going to go out for barbecue. Serious Texas barbecue. There's nothing like it. I'll probably clean the bathrooms and that will be the extent of our day. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Kate is doing great. She is filling in now around the jaw bone and her arms are starting to look pudgy. She sleeps really well for a newborn. She is lovely to hold and makes all the usual grumpy old man faces while she sleeps in your arms. I love to watch her. Hope loves to poke her. She does it very gently, actually. I'm really surprised how quickly Hope has learned to be gentle with her.

Well, I don't think I have much more energy to type. Looks like I'll try the card reader tomorrow instead. Maybe I'll have some photos to put up too.

'Night all.