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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Last Twenty Minutes

We are in running shoes and I have on my jeans. We are sitting in the lobby of the testy waiting for the shuttle bus to take us back to the airport. I have a sneaky ziplock bag of muffins and a banana that we grabbed at breakfast for the three hour wait at the airport. I have no idea if we will be fed on the plane (we weren't on the way here).

This was a very nice week with the weather being generally sunny and hot. Although it is a nice resort, it is not spectacular so we will not be returning. In fact, there are only two places we would go to again: the Majestic in Punta Cana DR and Playa Pesquero in Cuba. We priced them out for this trip but both had gone up in price.

We don't relish returning to blowing snow, but that's life as a Canadian. It will be good to see our son, although with texting and FaceTime these days it is a very different experience than when the kids were little and Nana and Papa stayed with them and we placed one very expensive collect call home during the week.

I shall catch up with blogs in between loads of laundry tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

By the third day

We arrived Saturday afternoon and it is now 1:30 Dominican time so it is our third day here. We are now getting the hang of things and know that the metal lounge chairs are better for lower backs than the plastic ones, the "quiet pool" is better than the main pool for reading and relaxing, and our new room that we moved to yesterday is infinitely better than the first one they put us in.

So here's what happened. My husband booked this trip a few months ago with a company called Red Tag. We were under the assumption that we were paying for a standard room and nothing more. After reading reviews on Tripadvisor (anyone else do that?) I knew there was a separate upgraded part called the Sun Club. I had even spoken to my husband about it, saying that it doesn't seem to matter about being in the Sun Club, that most amenities were available to anyone and it all sounded very elitist.


Fast forward to our arrival where we were whisked to a separate area to check in and were told what we could expect and what introduction meeting to go to (NEVER go to those, they're just a sales pitchabout time shares)... and then it occurred to me that we actually were part of the Sun Club! I guess the package we paid for just automatically put us in it. I felt a little sheepish. So off we went to our room which was nothing special but nice enough. It would have been fine if it had not been for the slow draining poorly designed shower area that flooded back into the rest of the bathroom area, or the family of fluttering squawking birds that lived under our roof tiles. So, we kindly and politely (Canadian after all) requested a room change. No problem. They asked us to come back to the Sun Club lounge the next day at noon which we did. They gave us room keys for a different building and asked us to check out a room to see if we would prefer that. If we did, we were to call them and confirm and they would send someone to bring our luggage over. I'll let you decide:



Here is our first room.








Now here is/are our current room (s):




I must share  with you that  it has  taken  me  about a day and a half to go back and forth between iPhone and tablet to get pictures to show up and go in the order I want them. I think I will  save  the  rest  of the fake exclusivity story for when we return and any other "adventures " we may have. I'm about to hit publish. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Beach side

I am currently looking out at the water and listening to a variety of languages in a variety of accents. The one thing we have in common is that we all scraped together the money to come to this resort in the Dominican Republic. We arrived at the resort at about 2:30 in the afternoon. We had been awake since the morning before because we left our home in Ontario at about half past midnight to try to drive in what appeared to be a window of opportunity according to the radar. Following what had been a period of mild and unseasonably "warm" weather, Mother Nature decided to unleash some pent up frustration by providing snow squalls and a ridiculous accumulation of snow in a very short amount of time. We literally crawled out way over roads that barely revealed a hint of car tire tracks to follow. Squinting through what I describe as Star Wars snow, we managed to stay on the road and were glad of the very few cars that were out there at that time providing a little more illumination. Eventually we made it to the Park and Fly close to the Toronto airport. Like every Canadian out there, we shed our winter coats that we travelled in, tossed them in the back of our vehicle, and donned a heavy hoodie so we could stand, shivering in the cold until a shuttle bus could take us to the airport.

Anyway, we eventually got on the plane where I watched three old episodes of Dharma and Greg (so funny to see Hotch from Criminal Minds in a totally different light) and tried unsuccessfully to nap. After a refreshing mint and a glass of water, we landed in Puerto Plata and began our holiday. Now the only decisions we have to make are beach or pool? Beer or banana mama? And before you hate me too much, it rained last night and it's starting to spit again. But at least it's not snow!! Please excuse any typos I'm doing his only phone!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Get the Milk

Recently, a blogger posted something about milk (I think it was about remembering when milk was delivered to homes). Well, that got me thinking about milk, specifically about my youth and milk. It actually played a very big part. Allow me to begin.

I grew up in rural Ontario. My parents built a house when I was eight years old. This land was severed off of my uncle's acreage. He was a bachelor dairy farmer. His mother, my grandmother, also lived there. We were surrounded by farms, but did not have a farm ourselves. However, I spent a considerable part of my childhood at my uncle's farm. Many of my memories of the farm are good. Most of those good memories have to do with animals and time spent in the barn.

My uncle had a herd of Holstein dairy cows, like the ones in this picture.

My mother helped out on my uncle's farm at certain times of the year, specifically planting or harvesting. She drove tractor at those times. As well, when the "hired man" had a weekend off, my mother helped do chores like milking. Do not visualize a milking stool and a metal bucket. This farm was as mechanized as it could be in those days. Milk went directly from cow through pipeline to bulk tank in the milk house. Fifty cows were regularly milked twice a day. As well, the barn housed heifers and calves and an assortment of barn cats and one faithful dog.

not the actual bulk tank, but very similar


Because of this ready supply of milk, we grew up drinking whole milk straight from the farm. Now, of course, it is very controversial to consume non-pasturized milk, but we never thought twice about it. My uncle was fastidious with his cleanliness, practices surrounding medication, and the milk in his bulk tank was tested every time milk was collected by a tank truck that came every two days (I think it was every two days).

Periodically, my mother went to the farm (a two minute drive away from our house) with a very big white plastic bucket. She extracted milk from the bulk tank in the bucket and brought that back to our house where she would ladle it into glass milk bottles. Several bottles were filled and placed in the "downstairs fridge", an old fridge that was a constant and compared to modern day fridges, lasted a lifetime!

source


In my brain, this is what the fridge in the basement looked like. Of course, I could be remembering it incorrectly.

I am the youngest of four siblings. We are spread pretty far apart, with four or five years between each child. When supper time rolled around, or at other family gatherings, inevitably the milk would be used up and the familiar phrase, "Jenn, would you get the milk?" would be uttered. It would be my job to leave the table, go down to the basement and bring up another bottle of milk which would be poured into a pitcher. This got really, really old by the time I was a teenager.

In keeping with whole milk, this was full fat, cream included milk. After it sat in the milk bottle for a while, the cream would rise to the top. Some might consider this a decadent, rich bonus, but I hated it. The thick cream kind of made me gag. I kept a small metal strainer beside my plate at the table, so I could pour the milk through the strainer to catch the bigger blobs of cream and keep them out of my glass. To this day, I do not buy whole milk. I prefer 1% milk.

I can still conjure up the sounds and smells of being in the barn during milking time. It was a pleasant, homey time for me with these big animals chewing away at the hay that had been placed in their troughs, the hissing sounds of the machinery being attached and detached, the background mooing sounds, the presence of a favourite barn cat, all very nice. That was the association I had with milk, not purchasing milk at the store, or having milk delivered to our home, although my father had mentioned that experience in his youth and that the horse knew the milk route and stopped automatically at each house. Because milk was essentially free, we drank a lot of milk! If we ever ran out (which we never did), there would always be a ready source at the farm.

source

So those are my milk memories, perhaps very different from your own. Chime in.



Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Just Stuff

My mind and heart has not been devoted to blogging lately. I still like to read others' blogs and sometimes comment, but I have nothing earth shattering to share, nor do I feel particularly witty, or philosophical.

Snapshots of my life that you might see recently:

-green grass (not actively growing, but still green) is shocking for this Canadian in February
-equally shocking is sunlight - feels so unbelievably good

-me weighing my little piles of chicken on my nifty little scale - still logging all my food and eating within my calorie goals
-lost about 14 pounds so far
-have two or three pants (jeans mostly) that I have not comfortably worn (or worn at all) for well over a year - these are my weight loss goals

-shopping with husband this past Sunday - bought some used books to take on vacation, so it doesn't matter if they get smeared with sunscreen
-swearing a bit more than "under my breath" as I'm trying to get bathing suits out of a clothing rack and the hangers catching on every single strap, and then catching on the straps of the bathing suits I already have in my other hand... etc.

-me being proud of doing weight training about three times a week and being excited when I can move up to the next barbells because I am gaining muscle and getting stronger

-playing on the wii with husband and kids on Family Day and remembering why these are the people that I love hanging around with the most

-getting up every five minutes to let in a cat, let out a cat because they are confused by the mild weather mixed with high wind and snow
-letting husband know that there is a half of a mouse on the mat on the back porch and another half of a mouse on the mat on the front porch (disposing of body parts is his job)

-being just so busy and so tired at work and always wanting the weekend to come

-being reminded of Tang orange drink and then thinking about all the absolute insults to food that I was fed as a child, and then remembering that my father drank Carnation Instant Breakfast almost every morning - what was in that??

-driving home and listening to a radio interview with the man whose company is taking over some of the HMV stores in Canada (they sold CDs and movie / comic accessories) who feels that vinyl is making a resurgence.
-remembering the excitement of buying a new album and listening to it over and over until the words were memorized
-realizing my kids don't know anything about knowing the order of songs on an album, they only know individual songs

-staying up way too late on Sunday night to see if they finally found something on Oak Island and, no, they did not bring up a bucketload of gold coins

-going on TripAdvisor every day to read reviews about the resort we are going to and then realizing it wouldn't even matter if every review was bad because we are going there anyway

-sitting here at the  "old" computer re-writing this for a third time because my crazy cursor on my "cheap" laptop continue to bounce all over the place and inadvertently delete most of my post and saying to myself, "You get what you pay for."

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Sunny Saturday

The sun came out. We almost didn't know what it was!! We are above 0 degrees for this whole weekend. We all (daughter included... she just came home for part of her "reading week") were outside prepared to dig out the vehicle (long story). Once husband got it out of the snow, daughter and I walked back to put shovels away in the shed. With this lovely "warm" weather the snow has become perfect packing snow. So, her brother threw a snowball at her, she reciprocated (ages 17 and 20 respectively), I told him he still had work to do with his father...

Anyway, daughter and I ended up making a snowman. We decided to name him Stuart, after beloved CBC radio personality, story teller, and author, Stuart McLean, who just recently died.




Incidentally, Stuart McLean looked nothing like that.

On a different note, I am diligently doing my weight training. I do seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time pinning exercise pictures and information from Pinterest, than I do actually performing the exercises. I did however, come across something called "surrenders".

source


Here I am performing one surrender ;)    If you think you are in pretty good shape  (delusional), try your hand at these babies. I won't bother sharing how my first attempts went. It wasn't pretty.

I will finish with mentioning what is indeed a beautiful sound, here. We have a metal roof on our house. When the sun comes out, and the metal begins to heat up, the snow from the roof can suddenly toboggan off with great force. It is the beautiful, startling sound of snow slamming down from our roof that I have just heard as I sit typing these last lines. There just may be hope that spring will arrive in a few short weeks!


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Valentines Day

This is a little late, but Valentines Day was quite nice for two tired people mid-week! We had both been working hard to lose weight, each doing our own thing, and we decided we would get each other a very special treat, exactly what we wanted, so that the splurge would be worth it. I asked for chocolate covered strawberries that I knew our wonderful local grocery store makes special for Valentines Day.



My husband wanted his favourite food : cheese. My chocolate drug of choice is like his cheese drug of choice. I bought him Stilton blue cheese and brie with a nice half loaf of rustic rye bread.

We both ate our splurges with complete and utter joy because neither of us had "cheated" on our respective eating plans up to this point. I even adjusted my calories that day so that even with the splurge, I wouldn't be that far over the mark.

I would have been perfectly happy with the strawberries, but we also had a bit of red wine. This is my current favourite.


The wine and the strawberries made me perfectly happy. However, my husband had a surprise for me that I wasn't expecting at all. During the day, when I was on a break at work, red roses were delivered for me! It has been a long time since he's done the flower thing. I was very surprised! It was lovely and they still look very nice.


I hope everyone had a good Valentines Day, doing what they chose to do.  Some people think it's a bit of a made up holiday, and perhaps it is just a commercial gimmick to sell more stuff, but after 25 years of marriage, it was nice to know that you could still be surprised, while at the same time know that it was completely perfect to just sit at home at the end of a long work day and eat your favourite cheat food with your best friend.