Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, we are finding it easy to be thankful. 

Many things have happened this year that have made us question our choices, our life path, our decisions.  There have been times when we have felt financial pressure, career insecurity, anxiety about our geography.  But today, as we get ready to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal, it is easy to see how very lucky we are, how many things have come together in such a perfect way to get us to this place in our lives, and how many people we have to think of as we sit at our table this evening. 

Dinner is coming along nicely - pioneer style...

Turkey finishing off on the left, gravy and soup bones in the big stock pot, potatoes waiting for the oven in the back. 
We had planned to be making Thanksgiving Dinner in the new Aga but, alas, the little gas nozzle and the teeny tiny screw-thing are still in transit, so her ovens are cold and empty. 

Instead we had this... 

I bought this combination oven when we were living in Indiana, as a luxury item, really, and I am so thankful now for that opportunity!  It has really saved the day today!  The turkey went in this morning, and the turkey legs went in the stock pot for soup.  The soup broth was ready by about 2, so we chilled that for another day and put everything but the turkey breast meat into the stock pot with most of the juices from the cooked bird, and finished that up on the woodstove, with the sliced turkey breast resting in gravy to keep it moist and juicy.  The sausage pies, which you can see in the picture, are standard fare in our house for the holidays, and when it got to 4pm and there was no pastry made yet, Becca started to ask a few polite questions...

So we made the pastry and the stuffing, and baked them quick before we put the potatoes in to roast. 

It was a good dinner, not the best, not by a long way, but it worked, and we managed pretty creatively with the meagre cooking facilities we have available, and managed to get the cooking done in between the numerous naps that seemed to punctuate the day for some people!

Feel free to pull up a chair, everyone is welcome! 

At the table, as we ate, and chatted, we thought of our friends in England who are not celebrating today, but we are still thankful for.  We talked about our lovely friends on the east coast that we have had the good luck to share many meals with over the years, those who still live there, and those who have moved back to England or off to Canada on their furthering adventures.  We made a plate for our dear friend Russ in Indiana, who asked me to fax him a meal, and we laughed about the silliness of it as we took pictures to share with him.  We remembered fun days when our families were together, and talked about Thanksgiving's past when we were welcomed into many Indiana homes with open arms and happy hearts.  And we toasted our friends here in Washington, too. 

It's worked out well that we shared our thanksgiving with all of you 'virtually' this year, because everyone feels a little flat today, we've been busy since September and now that we've stopped, it's all caught up with us.  Becca and Bri have sore throats, Becca has been dizzy and pale, Cait has a '40 a day' cough, and every now and then her cheeks flush cherry red.  It's better than last year - last year Becca had laryngitis and she and I slept for no more than 2 hours at a time for about 4 days.   She was in such pain, and nothing much helped, poor child, it was pretty awful.  At least this year it's just a bit of a cold-type-thing. 

I'm off to clean down the kitchen, by myself, which almost never happens - just shows how exhausted they all are that they can't even bring themselves to help, usually they are all available to work.  Hopefully everyone will sleep soundly tonight, with their tummies full of yummy food, and we'll all feel a little more energetic tomorrow. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope that your eyes and hearts were able to appreciate the wonderful good fortune that is at work in your life.  xx

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Very Noisy Night

When the girls were little, we used to read to them every night, before they went to sleep, and one of our favourite stories was The Very Noisy Night.  It's the story of a little mouse who cannot sleep, and who thinks that the night-time noises outside are big, scary things.  He wakes up Big Mouse repeatedly, looking for comfort, and at the end they both sleep through the morning alarm because they finally fall fast asleep. 

I'm still waiting for that last part, even though it's almost 3am here. 

The wind is howling outside.  It's raining, sometimes hard, and every noise makes me jump.  I tried to go to bed, but our room is the one with the tarp on the roof, you know, the tarp that keeps the rain out of the room, and every time the wind blows the tarp shifts and groans up there, and I'm pretty sure it'll be in next door's pine trees by morning. 

We had hired a roofer, he was all ready to come out and install and brand new beautiful roof on the whole house, and then Bri got laid off, so we waited.  And then Becca got into college, and our 'roof fund' became our 'we have to pay for college 4 years earlier than we thought' fund, so we waited.  And now, the roof just HAS to be done, it's leaking, the insurance company are unhappy, it's a mess up there - and our roofer just got offered 3 months works, 7 days a week, working for a builder.

It just wasn't meant to be. 

So I spent the evening on the internet, searching for reliable contractors with good reviews, and I have 4 emails out to people.  One called my cell phone yesterday evening, and one emailed me, which is good news - I'm thinking there aren't many people installing a new roof in November, so we should be able to get it done pretty fast - but not fast enough for me to sleep through The Very Noisy Night. 

I went to bed, I did my kakuro puzzles, like I always do, I lay down, turned out the light, and listened to the noises, marvelled at how the wind is SO loud it even drowns out Brian's snoring, and eventually gave up trying to sleep!  I will do more puzzles in a minute, now I'm comfortably ensconced in the basement, with the fire blazing and the upstairs rooms between me and the tarp knocking on the roof.  It's quiet down here, I'm yawning, it's looking good for at least 4 hours sleep! 

My laptop died again today, it has taken to doing this, like an elderly actress looking for attention it comes over all dramatic and faints clean away.  It took much of the evening to coax it back to life, and really, there are so many things wrong with it now that it's probably going to be cheaper and easier to just replace it - but roof first, aging laptop later, hence the continued application of smelling salts.  It's that month, the one where All The Things need attention, and we're doing our best to attend to them all, we really are, but we'd be grateful if there were no more 'things' in the last 8 days of this month. 

The Aga is still sitting in the kitchen waiting for a small nozzle and a little screw thing to arrive at the local gas showroom in the mail.  They are the last 2 remaining parts for the burner, which currently is set up for The Wrong Type Of Gas.  It's one of those things, along with all the other 'one things' that are currently taking up space in our heads.  Soon.  Soon it will all be clearer, some things will be finished, dealt with, done. 

Small victory for Brian this week - he did get his life insurance policy issued - only 5 months after we began negotiations with ING.  Working for a smaller company has its down side - we have to get our own insurance, and that's not easy since we are not citizens.  Mine is still awaiting a visit from a nurse, who did not take enough blood last month, and so has to come back for more.  I can hear Tony Hancock

There are times when I think life in our family would make for some good stand up comedy, and November is definitely turning into one of those times - maybe a new career opportunity exists here...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good news, bad news

The good Aga news is - the gas pipes passed inspection today, with flying colours, the inspector was very impressed with the quality of the work. 
The bad news?  Although the advertisement for the Aga said that it was Natural Gas fueled, it has been 'converted' at some time in its life, to propane - and now we need either to convert it back or to buy a new natural gas compatible burner, the jury is still out on which will be the cheaper option.  We're waiting to hear back from the dealership...

Good news - they can definitely help us to get the correct burner.

Bad news - probably not until after Thanksgiving! 


Good knitting news, there are some VERY pretty things living at my house right now. 

Bad news - pictures are going to have to wait because it's late and I'm tired and the pics are not uploading properly. 

Good family news - Parent teacher conferences at the U today, Becca is doing well and has settled in beautifully - hurrah!   

Bad news - It took until 9pm to tell me this, and then another half hour to drive home, yawn! 

Good sleeping news, we have the day off on Friday, we can sleep in. 

bad news - tomorrow is Thursday!  :-( 

Anecdotal news, the word news starts to look REALLY weird after you type it for the 9th or 10th time.

'Thank goodness for that' news, I'm out of news...  more tomorrow! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back On Track

It's been quite an adventure in Aga-ville - last time I wrote we had the 2 oven unit in place and were getting ready to build the rest of the stove.  Bri got quite a bit done...

and then disaster struck and he discovered that the base had not set properly and so had not retained its 'horizontalness' when he had put several hundred pounds of cast iron on top of it.  So we stripped the whole lot down and relaid the base, giving it an entire week to set. 

And then we started the build again. 

By Sunday, it was looking pretty great, almost done, all we need to do is fill it with insulation and pop the top on.  Then we hook up the gas, fit the chimney, get it inspected, and we'll be able to cook with it!  We're getting excited! 

But then....

as we poured in the vermiculite...

it all poured out again! 

Bother!  So Bri refitted the front panel, and we refilled the whole thing - and it leaked out the side instead!  At this point, we were tired, and over it, so we walked away and went to bed!  When I got up on Monday morning, he'd fixed the leak and was refilling again!  This time it stayed in place. 

Haven't done much since, of course - Hallowe'en got in the way on Monday -

Narcissa Malfoy means business!

And Bellatrix is ready for action, too! 
Tuesday was busy, too, we headed up to school for Caity's band concert, which was really fun.  This is the first year she's been in anything like this, and she really enjoyed the concert, even though she was nervous beforehand.

And now it's already two days into November, the woodstove is running 24-7 to keep the chill off the house, and we're wondering where we're going to cook a turkey in 3 weeks time.  Hopefully, in the Aga, but it may not be running in time.  I did discover, on Monday, that if you brown some ground beef with onion, garlic, and the necessary spices, throw in some tomato sauce and some kidney beans and sit it on top of the woodstove for the day, you get the best chili EVER, but I haven't figured out how to do the turkey on the woodstove ;-) 

Today it is quiet and chilly, the fog this morning was quite horrific but it burned off as the sun rose and it's a pretty fall day.  I've got knitting to work on, as usual, a scarf and a hat both in progress today.  It's warm and cosy by the fire, I think the biggest challenge of the day is going to be 'staying awake'!  :-)