The Real Price of Cheaper Oil

 

Recently, oil prices have taken a nosedive.  The price of a barrel of oil is half of what it was only 6 months ago.  I have ambivalent feelings about this when I think of the impact at the moment and in the future.

I like the lower price of gasoline as much as the next person.  Yesterday I topped up my gas tank, which I do when it gets to about half (a good practice in this frozen country).  It was only $15 and change!  A few short months ago it would have cost me $23 or so!  My pocketbook likes that.  Does that mean that I can afford to galavant all over the countryside just because it’s cheaper?  No, I don’t think so.  Why would I want to spew more polluting carbons into the atmosphere?

But I’m hoping, I’m REALLY hoping that the lower price of a barrel of oil will impact the production of oil in Canada.  Yes, OPEC – 1, Canada -0.  In fact, it already has.  The giant (mostly foreign owned) oil producers have already cut back, way back on production.  The ripple effect is being felt in the entire industry.  Unfortunately, those people who work in this oil industry are paying the price with losing their jobs.  I feel really sorry about that.   I know someone has to “take one for the team” and the “little guy” is it.

EEBeaversWM

photo by Marty

 

Something near and dear to my heart is the opposition to the Energy East Pipeline which is proposed to run from the Alberta oil sands across the county, right past my home (a couple kilometers away, and through the river that my home sits beside), to the east coast where it will be shipped overseas.  The plummet in the oil prices might be the death knell to the Energy East Pipeline project proposal because it may not be profitable.  Yeah!

With the cheap price of gasoline in North America now, does that mean that people will buy bigger vehicles (SUVs) and drive like there’s no tomorrow?  The sale of SUVs has never been more robust.  This is bad news for our environment.  With more carbons being spewed into the atmosphere, climate change will proceed more rapidly and we can expect more extreme weather.

There’s not much I can do about anything.  In fact, I can’t do a single thing about the price of a barrel of oil or Alberta oil or the Energy East pipeline or the increased production of SUVs.  I can simply choose to continue to respect our environment, drive my old Honda as little as possible, and use less oil products.

EEWM

Winter – Extended Edition

 

This week we celebrated the end of winter and the arrival of spring – officially anyway.  It’s hard to believe that ‘spring has sprung’ though.  This morning at 7 a.m., my outdoor thermometer read -20C degrees and the weatherman said it was going to reach a high of -8C.  Whoopie…..not.

Dripping Icicle

Dripping Icicle

There is still about 30-40 cms of snow in many spots around the property and 4 foot drifts.  We had finally been experiencing warmer, near normal, temperatures last week after the record-breaking coldest winter ever.  The snow began melting off the roof with 2 foot long dripping icicles hanging down.  The temperature was above zero during the day and below zero degrees celsius at night – perfect for maple sap running.  So last week, I tapped my maple trees to collect the sap for making maple syrup.  Now the little brother of the Polar Vortex has come calling and the sap has stopped running and the maple sap in frozen in the bottom of my jugs hanging on the trees!
My sister Betty shared photos over a month ago of temperate Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she lives: cherry tree blossoms, crocuses blooming, lush green grass.  The seasons here in Ontario seem to becoming 2+ weeks later.  What used to happen 30 years ago at this time of year, like the ice on the river breaking up, is later now.  The cold temperatures of January and February are now the bitter, unrelenting cold temperatures of February and March.

CrocusWM
The only thing to do is embrace the sunny albiet cold days with the promise that warmer days are just ahead. Soon we’ll be living with hot, humid weather and lots of mosquitoes!
The one thing that remains the same is that we celebrate my sister Betty’s birthday on the first full day of spring.  Happy Birthday Bet!

I Love Photos

 

I love taking pictures. I always have – I’ve been taking pictures for over 50 years. You’ve probably already noticed that I love to include lots of pictures in my blog.

OldCamerasWM
The very first photo I ever recall was a picture taken of me when I was 2 years old. I still have that picture. Back in the ’50s, photos were reserved for special occassions like weddings or vacations. Luckily my parents took photos of our every day lives as well so now I have cherished visual memories of those times. I can jog my memory by looking at pictures of skating and tobogganing in our backyard, Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Hamilton, down home, camping, etc.

 

1stAlbumWM

 

One of the first photos I took was of my pet turtles, Sam and Touché. I felt lucky that my Mom let me use the camera to capture those little reptiles that I loved. It didn’t stop there. I began to put those photos in my first photo album entitled “My Pets” which included pictures of our fish, turtles, dog, cats, cows, pigs, and horses (from down home). All photo albums back in the day were black “almost-legal-sized” pages of heavy construction-like paper. The photo collector would then place their photos on these pages with these little corners or tape or glue. I often wrote what the photo was about with a white crayon or coloured pencil – thank goodness because I would never have remembered all those pictures! I glued those pictures in my first album and they are still intact today. My second album was a compilation of my parents photos from my childhood and my own photos up until I got married. I used scotch tape to ‘secure’ these pictures in place but most of them have now fallen out. It will be another ‘retirement project’ for me to re-install all those pictures on their spots. Many of them I’ll remember where they go based on the white caption under the blank spot but others I’ll just have to guess at. Sadly, some of my pictures were damaged during a flood we had in the basement in the early 1980s.

TurtlesWM
Many albums have followed. I think I was inspired by my dear mother-in-law Florence who was an avid photographer and had dozens of photo albums, one for each year. Every time we would go to her house, I would get out the latest album and look at the pictures she took. I derived great pleasure from looking at all those photos and it’s one of my most cherished memories. Now I have dozens of photo albums for my children and grandchildren to look at. I have to admit that I have some work ahead of me in organizing the last few years of pictures – thousands of pictures. They are all stored on my computer and backed up on my external hard drive. I have to look through them and choose 200 for each of the last 3 years to be emailed to the photo lab to be printed off, then placed in each album. I prefer to look at an actual picture in a photo album than one on the computer. In addition, I want to reorganize my 1970s and 1980s albums which were haphazardly placed in recycled 3 ring binders. And of course, reinserting all those pictures that have fallen out of my original albums……

AlbumsWM
I love taking photos too. Who can resist capturing a lifetime in photographs.  Before I snap the picture, I look through my lens at the background as well as the image I want to capture. I really love to take scenery pictures with my family in them. I don’t own a big fancy camera, just an inexpensive 14 megapixel Kodak. It suits me for now because it fits right in my pocket or purse which is great when I’m travelling or simply in the yard. I have been considering learning more from my grown children about those fancy cameras that they use, where you can adjust the focus and all kinds of stuff. And speaking of my children, most of them are talented photographers themselves. Many road trips have required sudden pit stops to take a photo. But I believe that my family respects the art of picture taking and finds comfort in looking at pictures that are taken by different family members.
Photographs are a ‘trip’ in themselves: I don’t have to go to Bali or hike to the top of a British Columbia glacier because my children share their adventures with me through their photos. And I love that.

Tofino, B.C.

Tofino, B.C.

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

 

Today I celebrate International Women’s Day.  I honour all the women who are part of my life and I pay tribute to all the women who have influenced me in the past.  Some of these women include:

First and foremost, My Mom

My sisters Betty and Faye

My daughters Kristi and Nellie

My granddaughters Kalia, Olivia, J & H

My daughters-in-law Amanda, Jeannette, and Nici

My Grandmother “Mom”

My nieces Brodie, Jennifer, Kari, Kathryn, Terri, Melissa, Meg, Kate, Emily, Dana

All my darling cousins like Maureen, Carolyn, Verna, Dale, Jacklyn and all the rest – and their daughters and granddaughters

My sisters-in-law Janet, Cheryl, Amanda, Penny, Wanda, Debbie, Lynda, Wendy, Mimi, Holly

All my Aunts

My long-time friend Kristi

Cherished friends Sharon, Aleta, Andrea

My mother-in-law Florence

Lil

Good neighbours

High school friends who have reconnected

Wise women like Elsie Cressman, Ina May Gaskin, Margaret Mead, and Marian Thompson.

My friends in La Leche League and all the mothers I’ve been honoured to help over the years.

The women I assisted with the births of their babies while I was a Midwife – and all those baby girls, many of them now adults themselves

The women around the world who I will never even meet who have impacted my thoughts and actions over the years.

I apologize if I haven’t mentioned any lady in particular who has been part of my life.  You are still important to me.

Mum

 

 

 

Chris

 

June 1960 – March 2, 2008

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1960

 

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1999

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Chris

Chris

 

 

 

Homemade Lasagna

Making my own lasagna has always been a family favourite.  It’s not fancy or anything; pretty basic I’d say.  I find making Lasagna is one of the easiest things to do because you can make it before guests arrive or take it already cooked to a pot-luck supper.  We recently celebrated my son Taylor’s birthday so I made this lasagna at his request.

Wbaked

I usually make meat lasagna with local, lean ground beef from my favourite community grocer, the B & H (click here for their website).  You can always add other ground meat of your choice like chicken, turkey, sausage, or even lamb but I can’t guarantee how this modification would taste since I’ve never tried it.  I have also made vegetable lasagna to suit vegetarian guests.  And I’ve also added finely grated carrots to the meat sauce to discreetly increase the veggie content.  I use my large roasting pan to make the lasagna in because I like it thick.  It’s important to plan ahead.  You need to bake this lasagna for about 50 minutes, remove from the oven, THEN let it ‘sit’ for an hour, covered.  The juices need to absorb into the noodles so it stays together when you cut it.  If you cut it when it’s hot out of the oven it will fall apart.  It’s still tasty anyway.

This lasagna goes nice with a green salad and garlic bread.

 

Meat Lasagna Recipe – serves about 12 people

from my cookbook Mom’s Recipes

  • Lasagna noodles, uncooked store bought or homemade
  • 1-2 lbs. local, lean ground beef
  • 2 cans pasta sauce (680 ml. size) or your own homemade
  • 2 containers of 1% cottage cheese (500 ml. size each)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated (I use approximately 300 grams or about 2 cups grated)
  • Olive Oil

Steps:

  1. Brown ground beef until thoroughly cooked.  Add pasta sauce and mix will.
  2. Oil the roasting pan or other deep baking dish.
  3. Place a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan.  You might need to break some to fit them in.
  4. Place a thick layer of meat sauce (about ¾) over the lasagna noodles. Wsauce
  5. Top with another layer of noodles.
  6. Spread the cottage cheese over this layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with another layer of noodles. Wlayers
  7. Add another layer of meat sauce, reserving some for the last layer.  Top with another layer of noodles.
  8. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the lasagna noodles.  Top with a generous amount of grated mozzarella cheese. Wcheese
  9. Bake at 350F degrees uncovered for about 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on top of your stove or on a wire rack for an hour.

Slice into pieces.  The first one you take out should be the end piece, then you can easily lift out all the others.

For vegetarian lasagna, leave out the meat.  Add slightly cooked veggies of your choice:  broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, etc.   Everything else is the same.

You can make half as much of this recipe in a smaller baking dish.  Cut down the baking time by 10 minutes.  You might want to have leftovers as these lasagna pieces re-heat very well for your lunch of another supper.

Bon appetit!

Wmmmm

 

 

 

 

Yukon

 

Our dog Yukon died this week.  He was born in 1999 and joined our family soon afterwards.  Yukon was a pure Siberian Husky – his mother, Nanook, was a family pet from the area and his father  Anori, which means ‘with the wind’, was from the far north.

Yukon

Yukon

Yukon was very much a part of our family.  He was right alongside most of our children as they grew up.  I’ll never forget the first day we got him:  we didn’t tell the children we were getting a puppy.  When they got off the school bus, we were there waiting for them with Yukon.  They were beyond ecstatic!  Yukon loved the snow and cold.  Often he could hear small creatures under the snow or ice in the ditch and would dig furiously to find them.  Right up until the end, he went outside and made ‘doggy snow angels’ in the snow, rolling around like a little puppy.

I have to admit that I didn’t really want another dog.  Our old pup Dusty passed at 15 years old, just a few years before.  I said to Chris that we’d never, ever find another dog as good as Dusty so I didn’t want to get another dog.  I had one other dog growing up, Lady, a beagle- dalmation mix who lived for 12+ years.  My dogs lived a LONG time so it was a big commitment.  Chris told me sadly that he was never allowed a pet while growing up – he never had a dog or a cat to care for.  I caved and we bought Yukon.

When Yukon was a puppy, he was really a free spirit.  He had difficulty listening to us and would wander off and ignore us when we called him back.  It took us almost 3 years to get him to listen to us.  Overnight, we would keep him in the kitchen, blocked off with our coffee table turned on its side – we still have the teeth marks where Yukon chewed on the leg.  I don’t recall him chewing shoes or boots though.  We thought that our new dog would eat all the leftovers from the children just like Dusty but Yukon could not digest human food well at all.  After about 8-9 years, he began to eat small amounts of leftover meat and then almost anything eventually.

puppy Yukon and Marty

puppy Yukon and Marty

Yukon loved other dogs and cats too.  He was a mentor to the neighbourhood dogs like Oreo, Rusty, Lucy, Cody, and cousin Skye.  When Oreo and Skye were puppies, Yukon laid down and let them climb over him and nip his nose and paws like a good big brother.  When we had neighbourhood parties, the dogs would all play together as much as the children and adults.  We bought a hand crafted Dog Sled assuming that he would gladly pull the children in the snow but Yukon was not a sled dog and he’d rather have been ON the sled with the kids rather than pulling it.  Chris would have to lead him and run with him while he was pulling each child – what a site!

He loved to go for walks.  When he was younger, we walked every night at 6 p.m. down the road, past the farm and fields to the turn-around.  We would let Yukon off his leash after the farm so he could sniff till his heart’s content.  Once he spotted deer in the field and took off after them but amazingly came back when we called him.  He loved those walks.

Yukon did not like water.  When he was only a few years old, he met up with a skunk and had to be washed with tomato juice and hosed off.  His fur was very unique because it never soaked up water – liquid just rolled off.  I think Huskies have fur with little air pockets in each strand to keep them warm in the far north and they have some kind of water-repelling coating on them.  He never went playing in the river like other dogs – he’d just go up to his knees, that’s it.  He used to try to sneak away to visit his friends down the pebbled edge of the river when the water level was lowered in the fall.

He always looked clean too.  Yukon would grow a winter coat of soft fuzzy fur.  This would come out in the spring – all over the mudroom floor!  We bought a horse brush to use on him since dog brushes were ineffective.  It took until June or July for him to lose all his winter coat and he’d look half his size.  I would use the brushed fur as mulch in my garden because it matted down thickly and never decomposed.

together again

Chris and Yukon together again

The past few years have been tough for Yukon.  He couldn’t tolerate the heat and humidity like he use to so we’d make him stay in the house or garage where it was cooler.  Only this winter, was the cold too much for him.  We’ve have weeks and weeks of Extreme Cold Warnings and Frostbite Advisories.  Yukon still wanted to go out back to his ‘spot’ and lay down like he always used to love doing.  But he didn’t grow his warm winter coat this year.  On these really cold days, I would only let him stay outside for 15 minutes up to 2 hours depending on how cold it was.  He must have been getting deaf too because he wouldn’t hear me call him in or maybe he just didn’t want to come inside.  I’d have to get all my winter gear on and walk down his path and make him slowly stand up and come up to the house with me – every single time this winter.  He’s been sleeping on his bed out in the mudroom where it’s cooler for years but this winter we brought him into the kitchen.  I think he liked being closer to us anyway even though we had a glass door to the mudroom that he could look through.   After Taylor moved back to the city, I took him for walks along our road several times a day.  On his last morning, he walked as normally as he always did, sniffing other doggy smells and marking his spots.  In the afternoon, he suddenly started to stagger and collapsed.

We’ve been pretty shaken by his passing.  Yukon was a treasured member of our family.  Today I went outside to empty the woodstove ash bucket and saw his footprints in his path in the back yard.  I started to cry and took a photo before the wind obliterates it with snow forever.

Yukon's backyard path

Yukon’s backyard path

Rest in peace Yukon.  You will be missed.

 

 

 

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