Monday, July 29, 2013

House Guests

I was delighted when the Steiners (senior) showed up Saturday.  Now of course, it meant that there was an instant crowd; they don't travel when it's not a crowd, plus everyone else who came over to see them.  On top of that, the Steiners (junior) were having a garage sale on my front lawn; so there was a fair bit of coming and going with that.

All in all, it meant that a lot of my weekend plans got changed.  Ruth and I still did our Saturday morning cooking together.  We took the Daryl and Kristen's oldest two girls to the farmer's market with us.  The crowd didn't arrive until noon - so we fed them and then started on baking.  Made pies; apple pies, saskatoon pies; pies mixed with rhubarb; gluten-free pies.  Lots of pies.  Put them all in the freezer.

Saturday night we had over 30 for supper.  I moved it all to the backyard; borrowed Ruth's folding tables (they were already over at my house for the garage sale), and we visited outside.  It was very nice.  Sunday was much cooler and promising rain so we ate inside; but still nearly 30 people I think (not all the same people).  Saturday night we had perogy casserole and borscht and chicken and dumplings.  Sunday we had ham and hash brown casserole and three different kinds of salad.  Mid Sunday afternoon everyone took off and we had a quiet(er) household again.   I had an afternoon nap then I needed to go out and get groceries but unfortunately my van was blocked in by someone's car so I stayed home.

It's nice having all the company; it's great that I didn't need to do all the cooking by myself (thanks Loopie and Ruth); and it's very nice having my home back again.  I still need to do a few dishes and a bit more laundry (did three loads this morning and about the same yesterday) - and the liner for my kitchen garbage can seems to have disappeared, but we're almost back to normal now.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cooking - long distance

So, I didn't end up as cook today.  However, the cook didn't show either.  As Rose has been hired as kitchen help - this meant that Rose was the dishwasher, sous chef, cook, waitress, and any other job that needed to be done in the kitchen.

I had done up the menu for today and tomorrow for her; and ensured that it was (what I thought was) really easy for her.  We had chili as one of the options yesterday so today was a choice of hot dogs or chili dogs; served with either french fries or a green salad.

Apparently what I thought would be really easy, wasn't quite as easy for Rose.  She did very well, but she texted me every step of the way.  Here's a sample of the texts I got throughout the morning:

  • When should I start the hotdogs?
  • And reheat the chili?
  • What else is on the menu?
  • I need to know what prices to charge
  • What do I do to the buns?
  • For the cheese dogs, do you put it on the bun or on the chili?
  • I found the cheddar but a lot of it is dried out
  • A lady ordered just french fries.  What should I charge?
  • Chili dog is bun hotdog chili and cheese, right?
  • Any prep work I need to do for supper?
However, despite her many questions, and how she was feeling totally inadequate, I think she did just fine.  She's gone above and beyond what she was hired to do, and has done a good job of it.  Here's a picture of her first chili dog that she prepared (before she added the fries).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"And other duties as may be required"

I think that all the employment I've ever had has had the expectation that I be adaptable.  In formal contracts, it may be expressed as "and other duties as may be required", but whether or not it's in a formal contract, I have always felt that I need to be prepared to do whatever needs doing as part of my job.

I have always felt that that expectation was especially valid for teaching. However, now that I'm not teaching, I've discovered that this expectation is in other places as well.  I currently do three days a week as a bookkeeper and two days a week as a legal assistant.  However this week I got to where I do bookkeeping to discover that the manager is on holidays this week, which means that I really can't do any bookkeeping because he has to sign off on all invoices before I can enter them into the system.  However, the cook was sick on Friday and was sick again Monday and today.  So, without any warning, I became chief cook.  (Rose is chief dish washer.)  I made up the week's menu, went and bought groceries, and Rose and I cleaned out the two walk-in fridges of all the disgusting, who knows how long they've been there, leftovers.  The regular cook is supposed to be back on Thursday (I go to my other job Thursdays), but I've got easy meals planned for Thursday and Friday anyway.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

VBS and Mission 6:10

This is the first year in over 20 years that I am working in the summer.  That's because this is the first year in over 20 years that I'm not teaching, and the income has to come from somewhere.  So although this past week was Mission 6:10, I didn't have as much to do with it this year as in previous years.  I still helped to organize the VBS and was there every evening, but that was about it.  I didn't do the booklet for the prayer walk (they reused the one I did in winter), and I didn't help cook, except for the Sunday potluck, and I wasn't around to lend a hand.  I felt badly that I wasn't able to do that, but not that badly.

VBS, as usual, was in the park at 7th and Pasqua.  As usual, we prayed for fine weather because poor weather meant that we'd have to cancel or do something else in a hurry.  As it turned out, Monday we ended up moving to Zeike's place, which was where we ran the teen program and the day program because the weather had been so threatening all day, but it turned out to be a beautiful evening and we really didn't have to move it.  Tuesday through Thursday we were in the park, and the weather was perfect each evening.  It rained and stormed Friday through Sunday but we were done by then.  Thank you, Lord.

I think we had around 45 kids each night; a smaller number on Monday because we had to transport them.  Everyone had fun.  I found it a fair bit more exhausting, doing the VBS after 8 hours of work, and would usually go home afterwards and tumble into bed.  I'm very thankful for everyone else that did their share; from Daryl who did the games and songs at the beginning, to Marti, who wasn't able to come up this year, but still gave us the benefit of her experience in the planning, to Courtney, who planned the Carnival - which was a big hit (but don't do the human pancake again, ok?  The wasps really liked where the syrup was spilled on the ground.).

Bram was working the noon to 8 pm shift at SaskTel and so helped with the mural in the mornings and then went to work.  It seemed strange not to have him helping with the VBS as he has done every other year.  Rose helped a couple nights but wasn't feeling really great the other nights.

As we've done every other year, we kicked off the VBS with a carnival in the park on the Sunday afternoon.  This year we had cotton candy and hotdogs as well as games, etc.  Everyone had fun. I helped with the cotton candy and babysat Emmet and Jane.  It was interesting helping with a toddler on one hip.  Here's some pictures from the week.

Remembering Grandma Orr

I was out in my garden yesterday in between the rain falls, and it reminded me of my Grandma Orr.  She loved to garden and loved plants.  When I was in university I would take the bus down to Wawota in the fall and help her bring her gardens in.  She had three gardens; a large one taking over the double lot in their back yard in town; and then two farm gardens - one at the Husband's and one at the Weatherall's.  There was a fair bit of work involved in doing that much gardening, but Grandma considered it to be one way that she could provide for those in need without much cost.  She had so much produce that she rented locker space at the butcher's in town.  I remember one year that had been a good year for cucumbers.  We did over 40 quarts of dill pickles as well as I don't know how many quarts of bread-and-butter pickles (and as Grandpa couldn't eat them, they were solely to be given away).  In addition, anyone who came to the door for any reason whatsoever was given a bag of cucumbers, and I was sent home with three or four bags of them on the bus.

Grandma also had lots of plants in the house.  When she was away for awhile, she gave me careful instructions on how to water all of them (this one only gets one tablespoon every day; don't water this one until the soil is dry - about every third day, etc.).  She kept rain water and snow water for her house plants, and it generally took one to two ice cream pails to water everything.  She kept a special plant "hospital" in the basement for plants that were sickly or had bugs that she didn't want to infect the rest of the house.

I lived with Grandma for six months when I got my first teaching position.  It was the year after Grandpa, Aunt Rose and Grandma Husband all died and she was living alone. I got a teaching position in the next town over.  It was good for both of us.  I was blessed with the benefit of her years and years of teaching experience and this was the first year she was alone. I think I got the better part of the deal, but we both enjoyed each other.  I brought a quilt with me that needed quilting and we set it up on a frame in the basement and would visit as we quilted it.  I got to know Grandma a lot better when I was living with her, and to appreciate her wisdom and experience.

Grandma had a good sense of humour.  She liked to tell stories of how she got the best of Grandpa (who also enjoyed a good joke); such as the story of the chick starter muffins.  She also enjoyed a good joke on herself.

It's hard for me to believe that Grandma had been unwell most of her life.  The Grandma I knew was always slightly hyperactive; seldom sat down - and although she would set a plate for herself at the table for meals; generally wouldn't sit and eat with us - she was too busy bustling.  However, when her children were young, she had been an invalid.  She had an undiagnosed thyroid condition and was usually too exhausted to do much.  In addition, she had hepatitis as a teen and had difficulty eating foods with much fat, as her liver couldn't handle it.  By the time I knew Grandma, her thyroid condition was treated with medication and she seldom slowed down.

Grandma was a person of action.  Other people would talk about something that needed to be done; Grandma would go and do it.  The year I lived with her, she was excitedly making plans to go to New Guinea.  She explained that she had always been tied to home.  In the last few years it was an old folk's home, with Grandpa an invalid; Aunt Verna Husband, who was very frail and couldn't be left alone; and Aunt Rose, who needed care for even the most basic things.  However, now that they were no longer with her, she could go on to new adventures.  She queried me, "do you think I could help the work over there?"

Unfortunately, my children didn't get to know Grandma.  By the time they were old enough to visit her, she was in a nursing home and had a stroke and couldn't talk.  I am hopeful that my memories will help her seem more real to them.

Homemade Bread

It was cool and rainy Friday and Saturday, and we had a thunderstorm this morning before I got up.  Perfect bread making weather.  (Earlier in the week was hot and sunny and weather when heating the oven doesn't seem at all practical.)  So I pulled out a recipe I've used before and tweaked it a bit and am fairly pleased with the results.

This is a whole-wheat recipe - no white flour used at all; so it's fairly dense, but makes a nice even crumb.  It can be made in a bread maker but I made it by hand and baked in my Grandmother Lidbury's bread pans, which I inherited.

Whole Wheat Bread (with a little flax and rye)
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 TLB honey
3 TLB oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup gluten flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup Red River cereal
2 tsp yeast

Mix everything together; if it's too dry, add a little bit more water. Knead for 10-15 min.  Let rise 1 hour.  Punch down.  Form into one very large loaf (Grandma's loaf pans were big) or two small pans.  Let rise until double.  Bake at 350 F for 40 min or until nicely brown.  Turn out of pan(s) and let cool.