Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rake this meat over the Coals.....Please!

I recently had new neighbours move in next door. I have not met them yet and based on past experience, may never. The house is rented and the tenants seem to last a year at best. The last ones seemed to be the type that would stay forever considering the amount of crap they hauled into the place and deposited all over the back garden, but alas, they are gone, along with their white plastic planters and lone plastic pink flamingo and I never even got the chance to say "hey". The latest residents appear to be a bit more tasteful in terms of lawn furniture ( I can see their back yard from the second floor of my house), and they also seem to have twigged to the latest trend in outdoor cooking. A return to the charcoal BBQ. According to a recent issue of Toronto Life magazine, this is "hot" (pardon the pun). As I sat poolside with my glass of wine tonight, the smell of their dinner wafted over the fence into my nostrils and evoked memories of childhood BBQ's where my father would drown a steak in Heinz BBQ sauce and as it would drip onto the hot coals, the aroma was wonderful. It reminded me of the kind of hamburgers I ate as a kid - juicy, medium rare, fatty, dripping, greasy and bloody delicious burgers - the exact kind you can no longer order in restaurants for fear of the dreaded E-coli that may lurk within. A few years ago, we bought a big bag of charcoal to take to a rental cottage that only had an old fashioned BBQ, but when we got there, turns out there was a gas BBQ, so we never used the bag. We stowed it in the garage and it has sat there on a shelf for about 6 years. My husband said maybe we should give it to the neighbours since they seem to use it. That's when I thought - NO - let's keep it and go and buy an old fashioned BBQ and just once, maybe, I can experience a REAL hamburger - the one I remember from 1967. I'll go and buy some decent ground beef from a reputable butcher and hopefully eliminate the threat of e-coli and I will cook it so that it is still pink in the middle and I don't want low-fat, lean, extra lean or anything associated with lean - I want the real deal - the high fat - regular ground beef that will cause the flames to fly up and when I bite into the finished patty, the grease will drip out and it will be soooooo moist and I will put some of that bottled BBQ sauce on it and I will be transported back in time. So, sorry new neighbours - you'll have to keep yourself supplied with your own charcoal. I am going to use this bag - maybe even more than once and I may even break down and grill a hot dog too (poison as far as my daughter is concerned) and I will top it with chopped onions and gobs of mustard and relish and if I want to really go back in time, I'll buy a jar of Kraft Cheez Whiz for good measure and slop some of that "cheese product" on it. The whole thing could be like a giant flashback to the sixties for me. I just need to find my old "I Love the Monkees" pop top that I wore to Expo 67 in Montreal at a used clothing store and I'll be tripping down memory lane on a hot August night in style. Care to join me? Call me - we'll set a date.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Same gene pool, different as apples and oranges!

My daughter just called from camp. She sounded so full of joy, it nearly blew me away. She loves it there. It's an arts camp and the kids who go to this particular camp are kids like her - a bit different, not the type of kids she came up against during her 4 summers at your typical Muskoka-type camp. She much prefers the quirky, creative personalities she has met there and it is wonderful knowing she feels so comfortable with this crowd.
She was OK at the other camp, but as the summers ticked by, she became less and less enthused about going. Not the outdoorsy, athletic type that revels in overnight canoe trips and sports field activities, she never really got into the groove up there. A good swimmer, she never even bothered to go for the requisite "badges" as she couldn't be bothered. The water was "too cold" and she was not motivated by the "prize." "Who cares about some stupid badge?" she said to me one summer when I asked her why she had not shown them what a great swimmer she was. She is nothing like me. I loved badges. As a kid, I went to brownies and the more badges I got - the better I figured. I am competitive. She is not. ( accept when we play Scrabble - that is another story!)
She is not one for sports. I love golf, tennis and any activity that requires a ball and a target. Bring it on! How did I manage to produce a kid that would rather get a root canal than swing a tennis racket? Her father is also sporty. I can't even blame his genes. Sometimes it's hard to reconcile that I won't likely ever get the opportunity to show her some of my moves on the links or the courts. She hates riding a bicycle too. I recall when she was very young, getting one of those kid carts attached to the bike to get her interested. She didn't even really want to be hauled along back. We sent her to bike camp one summer - she could barely master it by the end of a two week session.
We have enrolled her over the years in soccer, baseball, tennis and gymnastics in an effort to see if there was even one sport she would like. Nothing. She did enjoy ballet for many years, but dropped that a couple of years ago, once she discovered she did not really have any talent or the body for Swan Lake. At least she learned something.
I think it is important for kids to have at least one physical activity they really enjoy. For her, it is swimming, but now that she is a teenager, she is all shy about her body and shies away from public displays of her curvy figure. My hope is she will get over that one day and just ignore her feelings of insecurity and go for it. As a parent, I have felt it was my responsibility to encourage and support her efforts at anything she attempted and I have, but now it is up to her as she gets older to take on some of that responsibility herself.
My job may not be done, but the time has come for my little fish to swim on her own. I hope she can.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our National Obsession

Yes, readers, (if I have any left), I am still alive and I do still want to write this blog occasionally! What can I say? Life just seems to have gotten in the way of late. So, I finally have a moment to devote to this and I am a bit stuck about what to talk about.
When in doubt, perhaps I should do what most Canadians do when they have little else to say - talk about the weather. I don't even think we realize it, but as a nation, we are positively, absolutely, nearly maniacally obsessed with our weather. Since we are in the midst of a "heat wave" here in Toronto, now seems as good a time as any to focus on this obsession. So here goes.....
Let's start with last night's power transformer explosion that left half the city without power for several hours last evening. The weather finally heats up and the grid just can't take it. KABOOM! The Kipling power station has an explosion that knocks power out covering almost the entire west end of the city from Bathurst to Kipling and a bit beyond. I work a little further west and all I experienced was a flicker of the lights but no full blown outage that might have resulted in an opportunity to leave work early - just my luck!
However, getting home was another story. Correct me if I am wrong, but if you go back to your basic driving training, however many years ago, we all learned that during a power outage, all traffic lights become "all way" stops. Do ya think many drivers retained this knowledge? It would appear NOT. The bullies just pushed on through without considering the cross traffic and the timid sat there afraid to go anywhere. Chaos ensued. What would normally take me 5 minutes, took 35 minutes and if everyone had remembered their training, might have taken 10.
Major intersections were manned by police, but the rest were essentially "every man for himself". Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am a fairly aggressive driver, so I applied the "he who hesitates is lost" approach and if some timid soul was off the mark in the "all way stop" department, well, I admit, I took advantage of their fear and moved on through. By the time they realized it should have been their turn, I was long gone. Patience is not one of my strong suits.
However, I am off topic, I was supposed to be talking about the weather, but this does all relate - sort of. I think many of those timid souls may have been affected by the heat. Canadians only experience this kind of temperature serge once or twice a summer or if they travel outside the country, so it takes it's toll on the aged and the youngest of our population. It's just too much for many. I will admit, last night, I was a bit knocked out by it too. I sat in my backyard in the shade and after coming out of my air-conditioned car, it was such an extreme contrast, I felt a bit light-headed. It was time for a swim. I am lucky. I have a pool in my backyard, so with no power and no A/C, it was a godsend.
I couldn't help but wonder how old Queen Liz fared as she carried on her Canadian tour, her pale yellow dress and matching jacket covering the full length of her arms and her stockings stuck to her legs - not a bare patch of skin showing anywhere. She probably couldn't wait to get back inside to the A/C and back to England for that matter. Wonder if she had a little sweat on her brow and wished she was anywhere but Waterloo and the exciting tour of the RIM plant. Surely, she would have preferred to be poolside with an icy cold Pimms or something English like that.
So today begins day two of the wave and "cooling centres" are available throughout the city for those poor souls who have no where to go to cool off. I sit here in air-conditioned comfort writing this blog wondering what it would be like to be stuck in the heat with no where to go, melting, withering, miserable. It's hard to imagine.
Do note however, I am not complaining. We pay millions of dollars a year to travel to hot countries to be in this kind of heat. For once, it's free, so we should just suck it up, slow down, remain calm and allow our minds to travel to mid-January - that's enough to make you put a sock in it.
No pool? Run through your sprinkler. No A/C? Find a nice shade tree, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, and chill. Just try to appreciate it.
And do the un-Canadian thing - don't talk about it.