Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Count your blessings

When things don't go exactly the way I want them to, it's time to count my blessings and realize that (thankfully), I'm not in control - God is.  I blogged on Nov. 4 how my sink wasn't draining properly.  At that time I put several gallons of boiling water down it and thought we had the problem solved. Not so.

However, I can count my blessings that:

  • I have a dad that can go down into the crawl space and figure out what the actual problem is. (The actual problem is that the main drain is plugged, not just the kitchen sink drain, so until we get a plumber in we can't use any of the drains.  No showers.  No dishes. No flushing.)
  • I have several ice cream pails so that we can put one in each sink so that we can brush our teeth and do other essential things requiring water until we can get the plumber in tomorrow.

  • My parents are here and can call the plumber and be home for when he comes so that I don't have to take a day off work to deal with this.
  • I can afford to have the plumber come in and deal with this.
  • I don't have to try to deal with it myself.
  • I can very likely have it dealt with tomorrow - so that by the time I get home from work, I may have everything good to go again.
  • We didn't discover what the problem was until after the dishes were done, so I have clean dishes for tomorrow.
Now, it's never my idea of a fun time to have the drains plugged.  But I still have lots to be thankful for.  (I'm reminded of a time in Yellowknife when a friend told us the story of how their house had shifted over the winter.  As a result of the shifting, the sewer pipe got disconnected from the toilet and they didn't know until spring when things melted and the odor arose.  It was at least six months worth of sewage under their trailer! I can continue to count my blessings for my much, much smaller problem.)


Yesterday Bram and I stopped by the nursing home and visited his Grandmother Thiessen.  It really didn't take long, and it was so good to do it - it makes me wonder why we don't find the time more often.  She was so glad to see us.  Here I am working in Moose Jaw and Bram's going to school there and we can't seem to find the time to stop by?  Something's wrong with our priorities I think.
Tonight was the typical Wednesday night, have everyone over.  We set the table for 12, and I think every plate ended up being used.  It was good to visit with everyone and share a meal together.

Usually for the Wednesday night thing, I plan well in advance and have everything ready when I get home from work.  Not so tonight.  I arrived home, knowing that I had nothing planned; picked up mom, went to the grocery store and picked up the makings.  We had lasagna,  mixed vegetables and Caesar salad.  I made a cobbler for dessert.  It was all very good, and we have leftover lasagna for tomorrow.  In fact, the fridge is full.  This is a nice problem to have.  I thought we had leftover dessert too, but left it out on the counter and it seemed to "settle down" a bit til there's nothing left.  That also works, because as I said, the fridge is full

I'm so thankful that I'm able to have guests over regularly.  I feel very fortunate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reading Aloud

As a teacher - and a teacher who majored in teaching reading when at university - I believe very strongly in reading aloud.  As a family we started reading aloud before we even had kids.  When Lloyd and I were first married, we shared our favourite books with each other by reading them aloud, and while we didn't do it constantly, we continued the habit infrequently throughout our marriage.

When the kids came along, it seemed only natural that we'd continue reading aloud.  I recall several children's books that I could recite because I've read them aloud so many times to Rose and Bram.  We read aloud on long car trips as well.  Living in Yellowknife has meant that there's always been lots of long car trips.

Ryan and Rachel's daughter Jane has also discovered the delights of being read aloud to.  She has a couple of board books that are her particular favourites that she is quite happy to have read to her 10 or 15 times or more at one sitting.

Lately Bram and I have been reading aloud some of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's books; part of the Liaden series.  It's much, much nicer reading aloud to adults though.  We read until we get tired or until we come up to a really long chapter, and then feel free to state, "I'm tired; why don't you read the next chapter by yourself?"  We've just finished the Agent of Change series: Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Carpe Diem, Plan B and I Dare. We've also read Local Custom and Balance of Trade as well as several of the short stories but haven't done any of the Theo Waitley series, or Scout's Progress, Local Custom or Crystal Soldier or Crystal Dragon.  I just finished the latest one, Necessity's Child, myself but I don't know what Bram and I will choose to read next together.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grandpa Lidbury

Remembrance Day has always been inextricably tied to memories of my Grandpa Lidbury for me.  He served in the British Army in World War I, was taken prisoner and spent much of the war in a prison of war camp.  Remembrance Day was the day before his birthday; and it was also Grandma's birthday.  Grandpa never spoke much about the war when we were children; he felt, very strongly, that children shouldn't know much about war.  He told us his prisoner number was 22, and a few small things like that.   He would tell of his friends who helped save his life.  There was a fellow prisoner from Belgium that he especially felt thankful for. When he felt that we were misbehaving he'd tell us one of the songs they sang in the army, "We know our manners, we spend our tanners, we are the Somerset boys."  He'd always explain that a tanner was a sixpence. However, as he aged and developed dementia, grandpa spent most of his last years reliving his time in prison camp.  (Grandpa is on the far right)

However, Grandpa was so much more than just an elderly man reliving his time in prison camp.  He grew up in England and didn't emigrate to Canada until 1922, well after the war was over.  He said that he'd been bossed around enough during the war and wanted to work where he could be his own boss.  He came to the  Bengough area (he had a sister who lived near there) and worked as a hired man for several years.  He became a Christian because the family where he worked read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table and were careful to read passages that awakened in him the need to know more.  He was baptized by my Grandfather Orr, in the winter, in a dugout.  They had cut a hole through the ice, and Granddad Orr had gone down with him and started to preach and apparently Grandpa Lidbury had turned to him and said, "Wilfred, just do it."

My two grandfathers were friends, and worked on threshing crews together.  They memorized scripture while working on the crews; driving the racks of sheaves to the threshing machine, waiting in line, etc.  Grandpa Lidbury was always very proud of the scripture that he had memorized.  He said that when he became a Christian all he knew was the names of the books "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", but there really weren't many passages in the New Testament that if you quoted a verse or two he couldn't complete the quotation.  Grandpa was a faithful Christian his entire life.

He didn't marry until he was in his 30's - and Grandma had grown up in Tennessee and had been living in Texas when they married.  It could have been a real recipe for disaster - two very, very different cultures, and they were married just in time for the start of the great depression.  For much of their early married life, Grandpa's mother lived with them, and, to put it kindly, she was a difficult woman to live with.  However, they loved each other dearly.  Grandpa would stay home from farming on Mondays because it was wash day and he felt that it was too much work for his wife to do on her own.  It involved hauling the water and heating it, as well as using the wash board, etc.  When Grandma died, it was like Grandpa had lost the light in his life, and he was truly inconsolable until he had a vision of her comforting him.  He told of that vision repeatedly after that.

Grandpa and Grandma farmed at Harptree and later at Stony Beach.  When they retired, they moved first to Moose Jaw and then later to Saskatoon.  I don't remember them living at Stony Beach but I do recall riding on the back of the grain truck with my siblings and cousins when Grandpa took one of the last loads to the elevator.  He told the elevator agent, "Just weigh it now, and then we'll lift the kids down."  I didn't know at the time why everyone thought that was so funny.

My grandpa lived his last years with my parents until his death.  I stayed with him for part of the last year that he lived alone before he moved in with them.  He loved the grandchildren in his later years and always seemed a little more coherent when they were around. He died nearly 19 years ago now, but writing these memories bring him back so clearly to my mind.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Granddad Orr

My dad's dad was an amazing man.  He had a very gentle spirit.  He had come to Canada as a small child from England and settled near Oungre, right by the US border.  His parents homesteaded and his mother ran a store while his father was a carpenter.  In fact, my grandfather came from a long line of carpenters.  When he was in his early teens, H.A. Rogers came by and held a gospel meeting and he was baptized, as were his parents.  Brother Rogers operated a market garden and he worked for him for a time, and was mentored by him.  He travelled with him for a time, and then would preach and lead singing. He loved singing and could sing through the hymn book. (Grandpa's sister, Nellie, married H.A. Rogers' son, Alonzo.)

Grandpa worked as a carpenter, as his father had, and supported himself but also travelled throughout southern Saskatchewan, serving the church.  He married my grandmother on July 14, 1930. My dad was born in Minton in 1931, but they also lived in Horse Creek, Radville, Perryville area, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Biggar, Wawota and Vancouver.  I'm sure I missed some communities.  He helped organize the first Bible schools held in rural Saskatchewan - the first one was held in Minton and also served on the first board of directors for Radville Christian College.  He built most of the homes that they lived in; my cousin and his family still live in the home he built in Saskatoon.

All of this was while he was still a young man.  When I knew my grandfather he was much older.  He suffered at least two strokes and a heart attack, and eventually died from a reoccurence of the cancer that he had some years earlier. He was always very quiet, and had a dry sense of humour.  He would say something that was really quite funny, but if you didn't catch it, he'd never let on.  He was really, really good at crokinole - he had practiced for hours after his strokes so that he could get his fine motor control back.  He also was ambidextrous.  He likely started out being left-handed but had that whipped out of him at school when he was forced to switch to his right hand.  However I do know that he would hammer with one hand and if it got tired or if it was more convenient, he'd switch to the other hand without even really noticing.

He was a bit of a picky eater.  He didn't eat any sort of poultry.  I think that was as a result of being a travelling preacher during the depression, when you could always kill a chicken to feed a guest.  As well, having esophageal cancer meant that he had difficulty swallowing and for many years lived off the really healthy milkshakes that Grandma made for him.  However, he also had a nervous stomach, and would be sick to his stomach before every time he preached.  It's really amazing then to think that he preached all the time from his early teens to his death; many times preaching 3 or 4 times on a Sunday. He was also very shy - it was very difficult for him to preach; but he really felt that he was called to do so.  For many years he also preached on the radio - he converted many people not only through the gospel meetings that he held but also through his radio preaching.

Grandpa really knew his Bible. I remember one time at Heritage Camp when we were all memorizing James 1.  It was my job to copy out the chapter so that it could be posted on a tree, so that as we were doing our chores or whatever, we could learn the next verse.  I copied it out and took it to Grandpa to show him.  He didn't have a Bible in hand, but he read down it, and pointed out that I had missed a verse - and then quoted the missing verse to me! Grandpa and Grandma read the Bible together at the breakfast table every morning, and he spent many hours in the word - reading it, and studying it.

Grandpa loved and was loved by many, many people.  When I first started teaching, I met many older people who told me how they had been converted by my grandfather and felt that they owed a great deal to him.  He was really good at maturing people in Christ.  He had a great deal of wisdom.  Although he was limited by his poor health for much of his later years, he didn't let it slow him down.

Sunday morning

It's Sunday morning.  Got up this morning to the news that we had freezing rain last night and that the roads are like skating rinks.  Started to put my kitchen back into order from our cooking marathon yesterday.  One good thing about having my sink plugged is that I got the area underneath my sink put into order.  How often does that happen?
I got lunch started for today - everything in the slow cooker on high.  And I didn't get the living room tidied up.  Bram's a little annoyed at me because he made breakfast and wanted me to help a bit but I'm finishing up my blog entries.  Sorry, Bram.  He also informed me that he saw a mouse running across the counter last night.  Yuck!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Plugged Sinks

Walter came by with a snake and tried to snake out my kitchen lines.  He had to go down into the crawl space (with Bram to help).  He says I don't have much slope on the kitchen lines and that could be part of the problem.  I pointed out that I've lived here 2.5 years and this is the first time I've had any problem.  However, he also discovered that a 25 foot snake is about 2 feet too short.

He now says that we should maybe cut the line and put in a clean out about six feet along - then a standard 25 foot snake would work.  Either I pay to get that done or I pay to have a plumber come in.  All I know is that I can't use my sink right now.

Here's the recipe for the lentil soup.

Nicky's Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils
1 chopped white onion
1 chopped carrot
2 chopped celery sticks
2 TLB chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
1 TLB sea salt
1 TLB fresh dill
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
9 cups stock
2-3 oz olive oil
2 TLB parsley
3 oz tomato paste
5 TLB pepper

Saute vegetables until almost tender.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, herbs and spices, lentils and the stock.  Bring to a boil stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.  Reduce heat and simmer.

Now - we didn't have tomato juice but my can of tomato paste was a 5 1/2 oz can, so we just added another two cups of water.

It was really, really good.  We saved the leftovers in ziplock freezer bags and put it in the freezer.  We'll eat it this coming week for lunch.

It's Saturday - we must be cooking

Ruth and I cooked for much of the day today.  We started a little later than usual; had to get groceries first, and then cooked on and off all day.  What did we make?

  • Four salads - sweet potato black bean; coleslaw forever, quinoa current and Greek salad.
  • One soup - a lentil soup; we also ate it for lunch and it was very good.
  • an Asian-themed supper, with ginger fried tofu, egg foo yeung, rice and soy sauce gravy.
  • Two pumpkin pies (with fresh pumpkin) - which also means that we made freshly baked pumpkin seeds, and baked pumpkin.

Unfortunately, when we started cleaning everything up, my kitchen sink decided to stop draining; so I think I may have to wash whatever doesn't fit into the dishwasher in my bathtub.  I still have a small bit to clean up - plus the mess from under the sink that got pulled out so that we could try to unclog the sink.  I may also have to pay for a plumber to come by next week.

Tomorrow we've invited a crowd for lunch.  We're planning to have roast pork, sweet potato fries, salads, mixed winter vegetables, scalloped potatoes and pie for dessert.  Note that all of that except for the salads, which we made today, can be cooked in the oven at one time.  That's so we can put it in before we go to church and take it out once we get home again and have everything ready.

It's Ruth and my turn to make the snack for The Party tomorrow night.  We were planning to do tacos in a bag - and just purchase a box of the snack sized Dorito chips because it's right after Hallowe'en, but we couldn't find any; so I think we'll have taco salad instead.  Same idea.

OK, here's the recipes for what we cooked today:
Ginger Fried Tofu (this recipe was in Friday's Leader Post - but we adapted it.  Nicole really, really liked it and took pictures to send home to China to show her parents.  I was going to take pictures as well for my blog, but my phone's dead so you'll have to imagine how nice it looked.)

1 package medium tofu (drained)
Oil for frying
2/3 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
2-3 green onions finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely chopped (I purchase my finely chopped ginger already ready in a jar - the same way I purchase my garlic)
2 TLB minced garlic
3 TLB soya sauce
2 TLB apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 TLB sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes

Cut the tofu into small cubes and deep fry in the oil until brown (about 10 min.).  Drain on paper towel.
While the tofu is deep frying, stir fry the carrot, green onion, ginger and garlic until the carrot is soft (about 5 min.)  Stir together everything else and add to the carrot mixture and continue cooking for another 5 min.  Add the fried tofu, and stir to coat it with the sauce.  Serve hot over rice.

Zucchini Egg Foo Yeung
3 small zucchini - grated
1 medium carrot - grated
6 mushrooms - sliced
1/2 onion - diced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
oil for frying

Mix together all the vegetables.  In a small bowl, crack two eggs at a time, beat them and add a large handful of the vegetable mixture.  Stir until it's all covered with the eggs.  Heat the oil in the frying pan, and add the vegetable egg mixture, forming it into two pancakes.  When brown on one side, carefully turn it over.  

I found that I was able to make 7 pancakes with the vegetable mixture above; which meant that I used 7 eggs, doing two at a time.  

Serve with soya sauce gravy.

Soya Sauce Gravy
1/4 cup soya sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 cups water
Mix the soya sauce and cornstarch together.  Add water and whisk to get rid of any lumps.  Cook in the microwave until the consistency of gravy - about 3-5 minutes.