Posted by: Valerie | May 15, 2011


SOooo – did you think I’d left town, or more permanently, left the planet? I can understand if you did. In fact I have merely been buried, waiting for our reluctant spring. Then one day about a month ago, Joe and I took a drive and life took a great big hiccup and projected us into unsuspected new territory.

After years of tossing around the idea of moving from this place with its acres of bush and little lake – and the house which is a converted Indian community centre, and then rejecting the idea , as we do both love this place, we have finally succumbed and bought a little house on the edge of town. It’s quite small but has about an acre of hardwood with a creek at the bottom of the yard. We’ll have to do some cosmetic work but it’s in good shape.  

The new house

We have sold to a neighbour behind us, a private sale.  I haven’t ever had to deal with a private buyer before and I remember all over again, just what realtors have to deal with.  Our buyer is a nice guy but he belongs to the clan of “Let’s do this on a handshake”.  Not a space that I am happy in at all. I had to poke and prod for every initial, every signature, all of which was made a magnitude more difficult by the fact that he lives in Hamilton and although he has email, has no computer knowledge and no printer. His only nod to fairly modern technology is a fax machine. I do not have a fax machine as I email everything. Ah me, a trying procedure.  Anyway, it’s all sorted now and we will move in early August.

That seems a long time in future but then I think of all the stuff that has to be sorted out and got rid of (my perspective – I fear that Joe will want to hang onto things like his collections of old tapes and LPs etc.). I am wondering if he will agree to dump the old Sears catalogues from the early 80s. (“It will be interesting for the grandchildren in the future”, says Joe.) Then there is Joe’s “shop” which is jammed with the accumulation of 30 years and decorated on the outside with ancient agricultural implements in largely poor condition. I believe he has a pair of oxen yokes too! Most of the above were bought at auction, needless to say. So now we are going to have an auction of our own!  I’m not sure that I could stand watching an auction on our own property, especially when something that I bought comes under the hammer – like the honking great drop front desk that I paid $100 for quite recently. And will definitely not have room for in the new house!

Besides the excitement about the house, we haven’t had much going on apart from James, Angela and Deklin coming for a visit. It was lovely weather that weekend and Deklin insisted on lots of outdoor time down by the lake, lying on his tummy dabbling his hands in the water. Cute, of course.  He does cute awfully well. He has recently developed a hilarious John Wayne lope.

Any minnows?


I had the experience of serving possibly the worst meal I ever made to the kids that Saturday. James is such a good cook and always gravitates to the kitchen, so I thought I would give him a weekend off. I decided to make a lemon risotto. Trouble was, I had to double the quantities and some of us, I am sure, know where that leads. Damn thing was virtually inedible – acidic and nasty! I was quite embarrassed even though it was family. Spaghetti bolognese next time, I swear!

For some reason, thinking of bad food brought to mind a trip that my sister Sue and I took to Scotland when our mother was ill. As exiles, Sue and I had memories of all the wonderful Scottish food we enjoyed as children so we decided to revisit our favourites. OMG they were almost all absolutely foul.

Did you know that Scotland has the highest consumption of sugar in the western world. I suspect that maybe the Arabs have at least as sweet a tooth as the Scots though. I remember going into a Lebanese deli somewhere and was invited by the owner to try a pastry treat. I demurred, saying it would be too sweet for me. “Well,” he said thoughtfully, “have this instead.” It was baklava!

Anyway, back to Scottieland. Sue and I tried the famous Scottish pop, Irn-Bru. Revolting! Then we revisited the traditional mealie-pudd’n supper though I think we passed on the gribbles (gribbles are the bits of batter that have dropped into the fryer – never a people to pass up a little extra profit, the chippie would sell them in wee baggies for not very much money.) Mealie puddings are actually quite tasty but oh so greasy! I think it consists of oatmeal and onions and spices glued together with something that might be a egg, then rolled in batter and deep-fried. Used to cost a shilling but that was a wee while back. If it hadn’t been in batter it might be considered as skirly which I remember from the horror of school dinners when I was little. Each class was made to form a double line and we were marched probably half a mile to the dinner hut. Everyone hated school dinners but I believe it must have been compulsory as I can’t remember any of the kids going home for lunch.  Actually I quite liked skirly as opposed to the green chips or lumpy mashed tatties that were the alternative. Then the pudding – oh the gruesomeness of tapioca with a dollop of jam or semolina with a prune in it. I will not, to this very day, eat milk puddings no matter how fancy-dancy you make them. In fact just writing about them makes me a little queasy!

I guess Scottish food could be an inexhaustible topic so I will end with a story that took place a bit before the trip Sue and I took. I was visiting my mother and we decided to go out for a pub lunch. We went to the Fisherman’s Tavern, to my surprise, as it had formerly been The Fish, a place that we were sternly warned against but indeed it had been respectablized and had the “ladies who lunch” crowd or at least as close as Broughty Ferry could aspire to. I chose to have lasagne and the charming waitress who had an accent so tthick and I, who had grown up hearing it, could barely understand. After asking her to repeat her question to me, I realized that she was asking “Wud you be wantin’ chips with that?” I refused of course and just ordered a coffee. Mum giggled and said she wouldn’t have done that. When it arrived I realized that it was boiled milk with Nescafe in it – sweetened of course. As an aside, while I was looking for this photo I discovered that the tavern is now reknowned for its excellent food!

The Fish

Which all makes we wonder if the double-lemon risotto was really all that bad!






  1. If I hadn’t known that all of the above is true, I would say “It’s a nice tale.”


  2. Joe you have a really understated sense of humour!

    Love the travelling banana story… and love the heading pic of Deklin…. as well, your rambling commentary. Good luck cleaning out the ‘old’ house… we’d have the same problem here… a year wouldn’t be long enough!


  3. Congrats on the impending move. It’s a PILE of work but if you have less maintenance and back-breaking work to do at the new place, it’s better, I think. Maybe you’ll have fewer biting insects too?

    • Thanks Julia. I’m quite looking forward to making the new place ours. And yes, I believe there will be less blackflies in town. In the meantime, they are here already! Got to find my nets before I can start weeding the garden.

  4. Wow! Big decision but good on youse both. I have to ask the obvious question: what will happen to the cat on the porch?

    Anyway – good luck with it all. Do find time to escape to Ottawa from time to time for a feed with the gang or just some of us.

    • Thanks, Jean. You dived right to the heart of the matter with your question about poor old Ginger. I have a secret plan which I am not sharing with Joe. After we move out I will leave it a few days until he is hopefully hungry and then I will bait a humane trap with some tasty kibbles and catnap him. Then he goes to the vet for the snip and comes to the new house.

      I will still be coming to Ottawa for boxtalk lunches and friend visiting and a bit of culchur. I need my little escapes!

      • Excellent plan for Ginger. I am relieved.

  5. I travel a great deal and end up eating in many many different sorts of restaurant. There are Chinese, Italian, French, German, Mongolian, Ethiopian, pretty much everything. Never once however, other than in Scotland, have I come across a Scottish restaurant. I wonder why….?

    • Actually there is Scottish restaurant in the Glencairn area of Kanata! I’ve never tried it.

      I well remember you and the gribbles though!

  6. Oh my goodness, you really are moving?!?! Good on you, you obviously haven’t taken the decision lightly so it should be good. :o)

    Glad you are taking old Ginger with you. August really isn’t that far away, oh, you probably don’t want to hear that!

    Good luck with the move.


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