Wednesday, May 11, 2022

If you don't like the weather just wait 10 minutes

 We bought cozy patio furniture on Saturday. I curled up on a loveseat to read on Sunday. Later we built our first fire of the season, roasted the first marshmallows/made the first s'mores of the season. 


 

Then, overnight, this:



Saturday, May 7, 2022

Getting outdoor hours

 I am trying the 1000 hours outside challenge this year. Given the way the first part of the year has gone, I think I will be happy to reach 500 hours by new year.  However, my mother's day present to myself and my family means that more time out of the house just may be quite a bit more feasible.


 Yes, this is a new (to us) patio set. The chairs around the table are significantly more comfortable than the set we previously had so outdoor dining just became more likely. AND there are two loveseats perfect for lounging on while reading - one for me and one for Alex. PLUS two small coffee tables just right for holding nice cold drinks to stay hydrated in the summer heat.

Just need this to not be the next "most wildfires ever recorded" year so we can breathe the outdoor air.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Catching up

 Since the last post, way back in January ... 

  • We've skied. Literally every weekend since January 8 at least one member of the family skied for at least one day. Terry ended up going for the 10 weeks of lessons, and when that ended I started the 4 week spring ski lesson course. Sadly, tomorrow is my last lesson and given how melt-y everything is getting, likely our last time on the slopes until next season. I know most slopes have been closed a month already, but it is a little sad to us. I guess we go back to hiking.
  • We have two new additions to the household: Nikita and Flicker (née Harlow, but nobody liked that name and Flicker suits her). We had been talking about getting cats since before we went to Germany and it was beyond time.
  • Alex is prepping for high school. In Canada high school starts in 10th grade. She applied to, and was accepted at, a charter school that we expect will give her the support and challenge that has been missing in middle school.
  • Terry's been prepping for gardening season. We have a bunch of little baby plants under lights waiting for the right time. Which, in Canada, is way past Mother's Day (normal planting time in PA).
  • I had a short work trip to Dushanbe, Tajikistan!  For three days! 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Maple syrup taffy

 Friday's adventure: maple syrup taffy

All it takes is some boiled syrup (to 235-245F) and snow. Check and check.

In one set of instructions I found online the writer mentioned that candy thermometers are notoriously inaccurate so she uses three simultaneously. Given what happened with our attempt, I'd say she was probably right. By the time the syrup hit the right temp the consistency was definitely off. Several recipes mentioned letting the syrup cool for up to 5 minutes before pouring but this was already hardening.  We did get a few crunchy, hard candy clumps before Terry tried to salvage what was  there by adding water and boiling down again. That gave us somewhat creamy, sweet snow. Definitely not what we were after.

So, we will try again.

And try again we did. That was Saturday's adventure. I took the boiling maple syrup off the burner when it was only about 225 degrees. That created the kind of thick, sticky, taffy consistency that could pull out a filling.

So I guess we need a third try, for that perfect Goldilocks of chewiness.


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Happy birthday to me!

 ... a few days late.  This year was a pretty good one. It started with chocolate chip waffles and Alex' card. The card included a secret code I had to crack to find the batches of cookies she made just for me.

 

  We tried to make maple syrup taffy, which failed miserably. We watched a movie together, Terry made my five hour duck (delicious as always, and the source of a year's worth of duck fat), and after dinner we had a brief jaunt to Confederation Park to check out the light displays and do a little sledding. 

The kids' s'mores cake was fantastic, although the marshmallow frosting melted into the cake a bit.  The kids gave me what I always ask for (but don't always get) - a whole day without fighting. I *may* have napped between 10-11pm but did get up in time to watch the fireworks on TV. We could see a tiny bit of the highest fireworks from the front steps but that wasn't reason enough to stand outside in the -20 chill.




Friday, December 31, 2021

2022 Goals

The last post foreshadowed this one.  They say if you state publicly something you want to do, it creates more accountability and makes it more likely you'll stick with it.  I have been thinking about what I want for the next year. This is actually pretty tame, but I am hoping by starting I'll get momentum going to continue after I hit the goals.  So here goes:

1. 30 hikes hiked

2. 5 new neighborhoods explored

3. 5 new Calgary restaurants tried

4. One work day taken off each ski season month to go midweek skiing

5. Once a month do something new - see a show, explore a neighborhood, try a new farmer's market, something that I haven't done yet.

6. I've printed out my 1000 Hours Outside tracker and want to see how far I get 

[edited to add] 7. One night hike with the family - get some use out of those headlamps!

There may be more ...

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Some small adventures

 Planning my new year goals and one is to get out of my rut. Try new things again. Lockdown has really gotten me out of the habit, even though one of my favorite things is totally COVID-OK - exploring new neighborhoods (Calgary is pretty low density so there are very few pockets where you have to be within 6 feet of someone on the sidewalk).

One thing I'd read about and wanted to try is making ice lanterns.  Basically you partly fill a container with water, then stick inside of it a smaller container to make the insert where a tea light will go, and set it outside to freeze.  I put one together, and then thought about coloring the second one. It turns out that food coloring will condense in the cold so it's a stronger pocket of green at the bottom surrounded by clear-ish water.  I've also seen examples where people put greenery and berries in the water before freezing. I have lots of ideas now.

 

The other thing is food. We have complained, well, more than we should have about the restaurant scene here.  Our trip to Vancouver inspired me to look for some of the things we ate there. Tonight it was hand pulled noodles.  We got the fried noodles that we knew the kids would like and a noodle soup for the adults. We got it spicy - the restaurant actually sells its chili oil, which I think Terry plans to buy next time. It was delicious and spicy. I kept coughing and my nose was running. Probably not the best scene in COVID times, oh well.  It bears repeating - it was delicious and spicy.  The kids tried sesame balls with sweet bean paste inside and liked it enough that we ordered a second round. The house tea was also exceptional. I have no idea what was in it - I think goji berries, peach flower, maybe chamomile, maybe chrysanthemum, I think some rose hips .... definitely honey but somehow the sweetness continued through several refillings with hot water.

Anyway, it has fueled my desire to do more exploring.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Gratitude 29-30

 #29. I am thankful for our amazing landlord. We really won the lottery with him.

#30. And I am thankful that he isn't selling the house so we can continue to live here for 3 more years!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Gratitude 25-28

 

#25. I m grateful for the COVID vaccine. I would never have volunteered to wade into tents filled with thousands of evacuees – nor take the flights required to even get there – if I didn’t have that bit of security.

#26. I am grateful I get to spend more summer in Calgary. Mountains and hoodoos to climb, and to admire views from. Rivers and lakes with colors so deep Alex swears they have been dyed. Camping in the mountains and experiencing freezing temperatures in the tent. S’mores over the campfire. Moose, bear, fox, the adorable little beaver swimming with its little stick.

#27. I am grateful that we actually managed to score the campsites we were most intent on getting last summer: Dinosaur Park (climbing hoodoos!) and Two Jack Lake (canoe!). We did not clear the bucket list; there will be plenty more campsites we are waiting online like concert tickets to score.

#28. I am grateful for libraries. They are so much more than only places that have books, but even if that’s all they were, it would be enough (dayainu).

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Gratitude 21-24

 #21.  In a very generalistic, vague picture of reality, I'll explain that most of my days are spent trying to teach, coach and convince colleagues that disability rights is an important topic in foreign policy, and that physical and communications accessibility is worth the effort and possible inconvenience.  That often takes form as reviewing and editing speeches that senior diplomats will make to large crowds and to intimate gatherings.  I am grateful and even joyous every time I open a document to review and either the points I would have added are already in the original remarks, or that some other ally has already added them.  Over the last two years I have seen tangible progress and I am so grateful to be in this position, doing this work.

#22.  I am thankful that we were able to score the last, frozen, free range turkey from the butcher we frequent; local Thanksgiving was 6 weeks ago and Christmas turkeys aren't full size yet.

#23.  I am so grateful that Zoltan fits so well into his new school. He's thriving. And even more grateful he gets to stay.

#24. I am grateful to Terry for building me two bird feeders during the first COVID summer, one I can see from my desk and one in the back yard. It is such a delight to lift my eyes from the computer screen and watch the chickadees grab a bunch of seed and move through the pine tree bough, caching it (for the magpies later to steal. Circle of life.The feeder is too small for them to perch so that is also entertainment when they try.)