Friday, 16 August 2013

Incessant Politeness

As Canadians we get a bad rap for being excessively kind. Yes it is true that we will probably apologize for you running into us, but that doesn't mean we can’t stand our ground. I figure there are just unspoken rules we follow that once explained, will help make sense of our appalling niceness.   

For example, I went to get pizza the other night and the following scenario occurred. I walked in and there is a line of fifteen people. I go to the back of the line and wait 30 minutes for what should have taken 10. I then proceed to people watch those in front of me and notice a strange repetition. The first thing a person does when entering is to have a deer in the headlights look and then penitently walk to the back of the line.

Rule #1: once you start a mission you cannot back out

The Cashier girl could maybe be 14 and looked a little overwhelmed. She would smile nervously to take orders then run to the back and yell at the dough makers. She would then come back in a few minutes looking calm and collected.

Rule #2: Never lose your cool

At last it’s almost my turn and the person a head orders 5 Pizza’s with sides. This slows down the movement of the line considerably and an exasperated sigh escapes from everyone.

Rule #3: Hide within the collective

At last it is my turn and I put in my order and wait patiently. I've noticed this whole entire time not one person has forgotten to give their compliments to the Cashier.  I decide to sit down, which is a bad idea, since it takes me away from her line of vision. I don’t realize until a few minutes afterwards that my order was already called. I self-consciously go to get it and mumble in a low voice. I don’t realize until I hear the door slam behind me that I have made an unpardonable sin.

Rule #4: Always say Thank you     

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Today I want to share something that I love to do and that is to go exploring.
Regardless of circumstances there is always opportunity to see new sights wherever you are. In big cities most of it involves architectural wonders, or shops and little cafes. Lucky enough, I live right next to a vast space of land meant specifically to preserve land and keep animals in their natural habitat which probably has my Father questioning why I wasn't sent there long ago.
Now I don’t profess to be a nature lover, but I do enjoy going on the off beaten path. It’s one of those things where if you tell me that I’m about to go on a two hour walk I’ll probably balk, but if you say it’s only a half hour, and we get conveniently sidetracked, I won’t mind at all. The best thing about exploring is it’s on your own time. Paved paths are just reminders that civilization does exist, and in an emergency there is help, so no need to die a martyr’s death among the thistles and thorns.
The last time I went on my own I decided to follow the bank of the river that’s been recently flooded. To get there I had to first climb across the tree trunks that had conveniently fallen down to make a bridge over the debris. This is when I’m grateful for my glorious, yet short, gymnastics career and pity those who don’t know what an arabesque is. Once on the other side I hunker down so my toes are just hanging off the edge. This is a perfect position to nature watch, and no wonder this is how birds sit for hours on end waiting for their prey. 
Unfortunately being a reformed carnivore I do not eat mussels, fish, or other moving things raw. Instead I watch the light play across the water and think for an unlimited time. Once finished my repose, I often see how much farther I can go before becoming completely directionless. Depending on the time of day, and recognizable landmarks, the time it takes for this to occur varies greatly. I tend to not panic and just keep walking until I find a path. On the occasion I find an animal bigger than me I then decided to turn my walk into a run. One time as it was getting dark a giant owl swooped down as if to eat me. It had large grey wings and beady eyes, they were very sinister. Afterwards I was told it could have been a Great Horned Owl. The only other menacing creature with horns I know of tempts small children and carries a pitchfork; it could have been one and the same.

Having made it through the forest alive, I return home to a hero’s welcome which coincidentally coincides with suppertime. After dinner there is usually a lot of activity and buzz going on. Before heading in for the night though I like to open the front door and lookout into the silence, there are no skyscrapers or building to block the view. Grassland stretches out before you and then there are the coulees after that. 
It’s definitely nice ever once in a while to take a moment to breathe and enjoy the moment you’re in. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Brownie Batter

Since being back I have done all the things that I've missed out on they being primarily driving in a car for extremely long periods of time, eating home cooked meals, sleeping in a fluffy (note fluffy) bed and baking brownies.

I wouldn't say I’m an amazing baker but I, at least once, have to make brownies when I go home. This stems from a childhood love of chocolate and the realization that if I learn to bake brownies I am then entitled to eat all the brownies, you can call it the Little Red Hen syndrome.  

The old cook book wasn't hard to find, since we never throw any out and instead collect piles and piles of them, even though we make routinely maybe 10 out of the hundreds of recipes possible. I found the right page by flipping it to the most torn and ragged leaf. This special recipe is called One Bowl Brownies and I’m pretty sure it is imprinted on my heart.

I then went around trying to find all the ingredients which is hard to do when you’re in a new house. I couldn't find the cocoa powder for the life of me and really that is the prime ingredient other than a lot of brown sugar. I finally found it stuck way far away in the pantry and started baking. I was having a great time until I realized the butter I used is the same kind of butter that I had on toast the other night that tasted awful. I don’t know what the brand is but it gives the food a plastic taste and one whiff of it makes you want to avoid it forever. By then it was too late and I tasted the batter, which was a bad idea, and it tasted terrible. I was pretty much done, so I had no other choice but to continue and hope it would be hidden in the mass of the other ingredients.

By the time it was ready it smelled good, but you have five senses for a reason.

I had my brother try the first piece and he thought it was alright. I then tried it and could taste a hint of the terrible butter. I finally broke down and told them it was most likely uneatable because of the butter but no one seemed to care- I then drowned my brownie in caramel sauce which made it taste much better. This has now got me thinking that perhaps my taste buds have gone haywire, and I don’t know what to do. There is a marginal chance that I might have burned them off by all the hot water I've been drinking.