Archive for January, 2021

A Walk with Reese

Reese is truly an enlightened creature that believes that you should appreciate life and not rush through it. She is a firm believer that you should occasionally stop and smell the roses… and all bushes… and all trees and fireplugs and stop signs along the way.

We do not make haste as, for Reese, a walk is an odiferous adventure.

Reading of Frozen Adventures

Over the last few years I have been given books by my kids for Christmas or my birthday about Arctic and Antarctic explorers. From the Franklin expedition, the search for Franklin, to Shackleton’s dramatic escape from the frozen southern continent.

I just finished reading Alone on the Ice that features the 1913 solo 40 day crawl by Douglas Mawson back to the base after his two teammates had died. There is little inspiration about reading where extreme freezing and near starvation forces you to eat all your dogs and eventually your frozen finger tips.

I was reading this last part while lying in bed with a warm comforter on me after a hearty dinner earlier in the evening but still shivered. Hard to imagine the eternal blizzards and desperation in search of … well nothing.

I am not sure why this particular genre has struck the fancy of my children as suitable for me. I suspect they are reacting to my often quoted stories about how harsh it was when I was young and how hardy we had to be and they want to demonstrate that there was a time when my upbringing would have been considered luxury.

But it also raises the question about why would men do this. Risk horrible death for little reward aside from some fleeting fame. No one ever got rich from it. But then I think of all the idiots that climb Everest or K2 with a strong possibility of freezing and dying, I guess it is just the nature of some people. Why for example go to the moon? Not much there.

However as I sit in my nice warm house, contemplating our meal for the evening I realize I am no longer one of those that risk it all for adventure. Bad enough that I have to risk my life going into Costco with only a mask to protect me.

Our New Orleans Meal

That is not the title I would have chosen, but if I put Gumbo and Cornmeal in the title, I would be inundated by people looking for my recipe.

Like many of our inspirations for a meal, I was reading a book where the character was in New Orleans and had a great Louisiana Gumbo. We decided to make it the feature meal of the week. A gumbo made with chicken, shrimp and chorizo sausage. I should have been Andouille sausage, but Chorizo is what we had in inventory.

We have made New Orleans Gumbo in the past, but rarely. One of the problems is obtaining the required ingredients. As it happens we have a jar of Creole File (ground sassafras) We chose shrimps instead of crawfish and, as I said, subbed the sausage. But where do you get Okra?

Now when we lived in Ontario there were so many food stores that carried unusual or ethnic foods. Here on island with all the old white people from Alberta, the selection is less diverse. Cannot find Catfish no matter how much you try. Anyway it took three grocery stores but we found Okra, and not frozen but fresh. Very nice Gumbo and enough for a repeat on Saturday.

With the meal I made cornbread. I do not do this often because I find cornbread good for one meal but too dry for the next. As it happens I was searching on UTube and a lady in the Appalachians was demonstrating how she makes cornbread 3 days a week. I did not use the pig lard that she used, but otherwise followed her directions and it turned out great.

I guess that part of isolation life, is where preparing an interesting and time consuming meal becomes the highlight of the day.

A New Train

You may remember that I made two trains for Ryan and Corrie’s boys for Christmas. Ryan contacted me and said “Uncle… two trains and three boys… do something” Or words to that effect.

So I made another train. Same scale with cars that can be interchanged. Did not have another rolling bin for the boiler so had to make my own. I made an oil car because it seems every train in Canada is hauling crude oil.

Pat suggested the car carrier built to hold hot wheels. You may notice it looks different because I used the Brazilian cherry from pieces left over from our floor. A very hard and therefore hardy wood.

The crane car may not last long as a toy but I had fun making it, and that is the main point.