Smell of a Memory

2016-07-29 13.55.18I was hanging up laundry early yesterday morning, when I caught a whiff of the past.

I don’t know where the smell came from, or whether it was even real, but there it was—the unmistakable smell of our house when we moved into it eleven years ago.

More than one previous owner ignored maintenance on the house. Today, I can’t believe we were so desperate to have bought it. The owners before us allowed the roof to leak, the toilet to leak, the piles and weatherboards to rot. They covered the smell of rotting carpets with air fresheners and sweet-smelling flowers.

The first thing we did, even before moving in, was to remove the carpets and air fresheners. Then I attacked the highly perfumed (and disgusting to my nose) flowering shrubs by the door.

We quickly improved the smell of the house (and fixed all those leaks and rotted bits), but it made a strong impression on me. On chilly winter mornings like the day we moved in, I can still smell those awful flowers.

Saturday Stories: The Catch

“He’s quite a catch, you know,” said Marlene.

“Yes, but…”

“He’s kind, considerate. I mean, look what he did for that little old lady the other day.”

“Yes, but…”

“He’s smart. He’s funny. You can’t underestimate that.”

“Yes, but…”

“He’s got a good job, great career prospects—you’d never want for money.”

“Yes, but…”

“He cooks, he cleans. For God’s sake, the man even does windows!”

“Yes, but…”

“And hot? Oh, baby! That guy is smoking!”

“Yes, but…”

“And your parents like him, I know that. They told me just yesterday.”

“Yes, but…”




“He’s gay.”


Mistake? Maybe not…

2016-07-29 13.43.40Remember last fall when I bought 200 daffodil bulbs and was thinking I’d made a huge mistake? Well, we got all those bulbs planted—they went in a lot faster than I expected them to, with all of us working together, and they didn’t fill nearly as much space as I thought they would.

And now, as we enter the final month of winter, we’re beginning to get a peek at what’s to come…

Daffodils coming up everywhere—even in places I don’t remember planting them.

Maybe buying all those bulbs wasn’t such a mistake after all…

Frosting Experiments

2016-07-27 18.47.26 smI should have known it would be disappointing.

Nothing can compare to a good cream cheese frosting.

That’s what these delicious pumpkin cupcakes needed, but I had no reason to leave the house yesterday, and couldn’t justify going out simply to get cream cheese.

Surely, I could use yogurt, right? I had yogurt in the house.

A quick search online uncovered a variety of yogurt frostings and glazes. Many were, frankly, disgusting-sounding attempts to make a fatty, sweet confection with no fat or sugar—soy yogurt sweetened with stevia was the worst. But my thought was to just mix yogurt and confectioner’s sugar to a spreadable consistency, with a little vanilla for flavour.

It certainly worked. Two cups of sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla, and about 3 tablespoons of unsweetened yogurt made a reasonable frosting.

But it wasn’t cream cheese frosting—too sweet and not sour enough. Not enough fat, either. It was less like cream cheese frosting, and more like a sugar and lemon juice glaze. In fact, with more yogurt and less sugar, it would probably make an excellent thin glaze for sticky buns.

Next time I make pumpkin cupcakes, though, I’ll make sure I have cream cheese in the house first.

Noisy Neighbours

2016-07-27 14.13.35Most city dwellers don’t think of the country as a noisy place, but it can be. Yesterday I was working away at my desk when I heard a deep rumble. My first thought was earthquake, then I thought it must be a milk truck. But the rumble peaked then faded, peaked and faded. I looked out to see the neighbour’s sheep running laps back and forth along our fence line. Several hundred sheep thundering back and forth, for no apparent reason other than it was fun.

It’s a noisy time for sheep, even without running races. It’s lambing season in our neck of the woods, and lambs are noisy. The ewes get noisy, too, as they call back to their bleating lambs.

And there’s no point in telling these neighbours to quiet down—they never listen. 😉

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!

2016-07-23 11.47.41It’s that time of year! The seed catalogue is here, and I’m dreaming of melons, tomatoes and corn.

The garden is all about possibilities at this time of year.

How about an orange sweet pepper?

My favourite squash isn’t available anymore? Well, maybe we’ll get Jade F1 instead?

And maybe an Australian Butter pumpkin, just for something different.

Endive. Definitely endive this year.

Orange cauliflower? Why not?

And I’m sure I can squeeze in this Greek mini basil along with the other three varieties. It’s mini, right?

So many plants, so little garden space…I’m sure that long about October, I’ll wonder what I was thinking back in July when I bought all these seeds. But I also know I’ll fit them in somehow.

July is the month for dreaming big.

Playgrounds of the past

2016-07-14 20.33.37cropsmThough we are back from our visit to the US, there are a few blog posts inspired by the visit still to come over the next few days…

The playgrounds I enjoyed as a child are long gone.

The monkey bars over asphalt have given way to simpler structures over more forgiving surfaces. The high speed pop-your-partner-into-the-air seesaws have been replaced by almost immobile rockers on springs.

Much of this is probably good—I knew more than one kid who broke an arm falling off the monkey bars, and I remember the pain of a finger pinched in the seesaw’s fulcrum.

How this merry-go-round has escaped the fate of other aging playground equipment, I don’t know (I shall keep its location secret, lest the safety police go looking to remove it). I remember playing on it as a kid, and my mother does too. By that measure, it must be at least 70 years old.

It still spins, though the ride is rough and squeaky (it was rough and squeaky 40 years ago, too, as I recall). The wooden benches have been replaced…more than once, I’m sure.

But even after 70 years, it’s still fun, as proven by my own kids.