All posts by Dorothy

$40 Beets

Several years ago, my husband grew beets and decided to pickle and can them.  He had jar-lids-photo-Dorothy-Stewartwatched me bottle relish and tomatoes and thought ‘I can do that.’  So he set to it.  He made one canner full, eight pint jars.  Then he printed labels for the jars:  $40 Beets.  He said he’d calculated that, at shop labour rates, that is what each jar cost him in time spent.  Thus ended his canning career.

Garden melons-with-cat-photo-D-StewartBut this year he moved on, with a new garden, to freezing.  We even bought a new freezer to hold the abundance of produce we have (insert slightly ironic smiley-face here).  Bok choy and zucchini have done splendidly.  There are melons of all types growing larger each day.  Four kinds of beans and three kinds of peas, all thriving and delicious.  And corn – truly the most wonderful tasting corn ever.

The only person I’ve ever known who grew corn in a small garden was my grandfather.  Garden corn-photo-Dorothy-StewartBut I was too little to remember the taste of it, if I ever ate any.  It takes a lot of room, considering you get only two ears per stalk.  I had thought it was a bit odd to grow it, maybe even that we were revisiting the $40 beets experiment.  In season, it’s easy enough to buy corn fresh from farmers’ markets.  But it doesn’t taste as good as ours.  I learned, taking those ears straight from the stalk to the cooking pot, that they justify any amount of space taken up.

No matter how delicious it is, a person can only eat so much corn.  So he is freezing it, following Corn-blanching-photo-D-Stewartsuggestions found online.  After preparing several cobs for blanching, he read that the best way to freeze corn straight out of the field is in the husk.  If it was picked longer before than that, like that you get from a store, it should be husked and blanched before freezing.  We will try both ways.*

We’ve had little luck with the pepper plants, tomatoes and spinach.  Too much rain this spring caused a delay in planting the garden.  Garden plowing-photo-Dorothy-StewartLettuce is only now starting to look leafy.  They may be vegetables not suited to the Maritimes or our soil is not right for them.

The garden was plowed then rototilled in what had been field, so the soil was clods of dense earth.  Topsoil had to be added.  With the rain, it was a very mucky mess for a long time.  But then the seedlings (started from seed in the house under grow lights) gained strength in Garden beans-peas-Dorothy-Stewarttheir little stalks.  Along with the weeds, they flourished.

Now we are reaping the harvest.  The chickens love the corn and cobs.  Zucchini and beans get a ‘meh’ from them.  I’m hoping that when – if – the lettuce comes in that they will like it.

Because, still, the biggest thrill for them is the mixed salad greens that chickens-photo-Dorothy-Stewartcome in plastic containers from the supermarket.  Within seconds, they completely devour them and look expectantly for more.  I’m sure there is an object lesson for us somewhere in that.

* Neither way worked.  This year we grew corn again, but less, and cut the kernels off the cob after a couple minutes of blanching.  They taste just fine.  There is a round tool you can use or just use a large, sharp knife – carefully.  It tastes much better.  The frozen corn on the cob went to the chickens.

 

Corrie Street Sept 8/13

Limbo

(Cue organ music) Will David confess his wrongdoings to Leanne? Will Nick remember love-a-bit-of-SuBoanything when he comes out of the coma? Will he or David be Kylie’s baby daddy? Will Craig and his backpack full of guilt derail Karl and Stella’s wedding? Will Chesney find happiness again with Katy?And, most importantly, will Sally win in the backyard barbeque war?

We were left in limbo at the week’s end. A lot of stories coming to a culmination or homemoving on to their next phase. The welcome return of rovers Hayley and Roy means that Hayley’s story will sadly move forward. No one scene jumped out at me this week, so I will just make a few observations on some of these stories.

Ches and Katy and Sinead

Ches began regretting his decision to get they-for-katy-are-theyback with Katy almost as soon as he’d made it. Or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking reading that into his expression at the café when Fiz asked him about it. Oh Ches, Katy is a looker all right and she’s the mother of your child. But she will leave you in a nanosecond as soon as another Mr. Studly crosses her path. And if she doesn’t, can you really imagine the tedium of her company for years ahead? Sinead is also a looker, albeit in a more subtle way than Katy, and she has a brain and some gumption.

Evil David

david-and-leanneDavid’s mixture of regret, guilt and covering his tracks has been interesting to watch. He may truly be worried about losing his brother. But his Evil David glances every so often suggest that he’s hoping that somehow his actions will never come to light, even if it means that Nick never regains consciousness or at minimum his memory.

Unfortunately for him, Tina has figured out of the whole nasty story (plus imagining even more) and is making him confess. I’m sure his lizard brain is working on how he can survive this.

BBQ Wars

Sally-preparing-Rita-drinking But, best of all, the Garden Party cum barbeque. It’s wonderful and cringe-worthy seeing Sally back in full grande dame mode. Rita did the right thing at the party I think: immediately start drinking herself legless.

Beth’s expression as Sally set out the tiered cake dishes with canapés was absolutely priceless. With just one look, she showed that she had never seen such foreign objects before ever in her life, and hoped to never see them again.

I am sorry that Mary decided to grace neither barbeque with her presence. To show two-barbeques-todaysolidarity with Norris, who had been not been invited, she declined her invitations to both. But the soirées are not over; she may yet appear. One can only hope.

Alas, I will miss much of the next two weeks, so I will not be posting here for the next two Sundays. See you September 29th.

Corrie Street Sept 1/13

The Go-To Guy

one-lousy-fagIf ever an argument was made for the value of civics education in schools, it was Craig’s face as Karl told him what would happen if he confessed to throwing a still-lit cigarette butt away. That butt, Craig believes, started the fire that burned down the Rovers and killed two people. Murder, Karl told him, means years in juvenile detention, then transferal to an adult prison for 30, 40 years, heartbreak for his mother, and suicide as the only way out.

go to guy Karl did-you-wake-up-that-dayWhen Craig first told Karl the secret that was bothering him, Karl told him the truth, mostly. The butt didn’t start the fire. Sunita did according to the police, so it was not Craig’s fault. Still, Craig wanted to confess. He started the fire, he said over and over, he murdered those women. If you didn’t plan it beforehand, Karl said, it’s an accident so don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault. Call me anytime.

Still, Craig feels so guilty he wants to tell the police and let them decide whether or not driving-me-crazyhe is a criminal. Karl has trouble keeping up his best friend and go-to guy façade in the face of Craig’s determination to make a clean breast of it. If it were only Craig carelessly disposing of a butt, Karl likely wouldn’t care. The problem is that Craig saw Karl leaving the back door of the Rovers and locking up behind him at the time when he supposedly was in the Bistro doing the Full Monty.

am-a-nobodyAs Thursday’s scene in Karl’s car progressed, I wondered how he was going to convince Craig to keep schtum. No reassurances or allusions to the rigours of ‘boy-prison’ were working. What will Karl tell him next? Will he tell him that he will hang for the crime? Craig may well not know the difference. And yes! Karl leaned in closer and best-way-you-can-face-upsaid you’re right, it was your fault, you are a murderer. And he began piling on the list of punishment ahead of Craig. He painted a vivid picture.

It was horrible to watch that poor gormless boy be scared witless. It was also laugh-out-loud funny. Karl does the friendly/scary looming thing very well. He honestly doesn’t want to hurt anyone. But if backed in a corner, well, not a lot of choice.

carry-your-secretKarl is having to dream up excuses for Stella while dealing with a child carrying a load of guilt. That guilt could be Karl’s own undoing, something he can’t explain to Stella as he goes AWOL from Rovers work and wedding preparation events. He is ready to pop from the pressure.

It is, my husband reminded me, similar to John Stape coming unglued as one after another coincidence occurred to foil what seemed like a perfect plan to cover up lies and deaths – good-ladall because he just wanted to teach. Karl thought he had successfully got away with murder and now a young boy unknowingly threatens to topple his whole happily-ever-after. The go-to guy has to get up and take action.

(Here is my take on my favourite John Stape moment.)

Corrie Street Aug. 25/13

Facing Consequences

David saw Nick, and saw what his vengeance had wrought. He likes playing out the nasty facing consequences David-sees-Nickgames he thinks up in his head but doesn’t imagine how serious the outcome might really be. He saw his brother all bashed up, in critical condition after brain surgery. All because it had seemed reasonable in his little head to exact revenge for what Nick and Kylie had done to him.  His game didn’t go according to plan. The consequences were far greater than he had intended. He might end up without a brother, he realizes.

Nick unconsciousIt is always about David for David. He’s like a cat with a mouse; the cat’s fun is over when the mouse dies. Seeing an unconscious, battered and bandaged Nick made him realize his Nick-baiting days may be over. And he has the problem of avoiding questions about “what happened”. He may be sorry for what he caused, but he isn’t about to take responsibility for it.

Leanne presses him about what caused Nick to drive erratically, as David said he had. He says Nick’s phone rang and that must have distracted him. Oh no, Leanne his-phone-rangrealized, she had phoned Nick. My husband thought that David’s choice of that explanation was an innocent clutching at straws, finding some reasonable sounding excuse. But I don’t trust David as far as I could throw him. I believe he well remembers that Leanne called Nick as they sat by the side of the road arguing. He knew full well, I believe, that saying maybe it was a ringing phone would shut Leanne up and make her stop the questioning.

I do feel sorry for David in the same way I feel sorry for children who are upset after they David-enters-NIck's-roompull the wings off flies and then see that the fly will die. He is truly distressed about what he has caused. But, unlike children who learn from their cruel mistakes, I’m not sure that David will ever stop holding a grudge against Nick, Kylie, his mother and the entire world for anything that ever goes wrong in his life, regardless of whether he has caused it.

Grilled Zucchini

zucchiniIf God has blessed you with so much zucchini that even the chickens run away when they see you coming, here is one solution. Grilled, for the freezer.

Preparing Grilled Zucchini

preparing grilled zucchiniJust cut the ends off, cut in half and slice lengthwise.

Toss with olive oil and herbs such as oregano, basil, or herbs de provence.

 

Zucchini on BBQGrill lightly on the bbq both sides.

You don’t have to cook it, just grill until it “sweats.”

 

 

Grilled Zucchini ready for freezerThis what they look like when they’re done.

Then lay out in a single layer on non stick cookie sheets and put in the freezer.

After freezing, bag ’em and you’re done. It’s easy and is great in tomato sauce or casseroles, especially in the middle of winter.

My husband spent all day dealing with produce from our garden.  He posted his grilled zucchini process on Facebook, and I stole it.

 

Corrie Street Aug. 18/13

Father of the Year

father Gary-by-bassinette“I can feel it across nations – people wanting to give Gary a good smack.” Such is the opinion of my husband about Gary’s reaction to fatherhood. Gary sees the baby crying or fussing as being a personal rejection of him. Get over yourself, Gary, it isn’t always about you.

On Monday, the first day of seeing Gary at home with Izzy and infant Jake, we could barely watch because it was first so annoying and then scary. Gary is nervous about holding and handling the baby, which, in itself, is not surprising. Even though they spent lots of time with him in the hospital, Jake was in the incubator much of that time. It’s different when he’s home, with you and no nurses around.

However, Gary seems to be feeling that the baby has bonded with him less than with Izzy. Probably that is because of the period of time during which she would not let him see baby-jakeJake/Joe, let alone hold him. Now, nervous and resentful, he is probably passing on his tension to the child. It’s likely a relief for little Jake, as it is for all of us, when his father passes him back to Izzy. As well, the baby is just doing what they all do – crying and fussing sometimes for no apparent reason.

Gary’s nervousness is one thing; what might come next due to it is quite another. He has shown before that he doesn’t do well with pressure. His petulance while putting the crib together was a foreshadowing of what would come. When he holds the crying baby, Gary trying-to-do-my-bitis so tense that, one time, I feared he was going to fling little Jake across the room. Afterwards, my husband said he’d thought the same thing. Mikey North’s acting is superb. He does not need to speak, his body posture tells the whole story.

What frustrates me is that Izzy doesn’t see the full extent of Gary’s anxiety. She isn’t remembering that he may not cope well, or at all. Keeping her captive in her apartment because he was worried about her? Totally freaking out during the tram crash? Diagnosed PTSD?  Remember all that, Izzy? Anna?

Izzy is trying to be supportive. But it isn’t enough to say ‘there, there, it just takes some getting used to’ when you’ve got a guy who is so tense he’s ready to pop. Also sometimes her issues collide with his.

When Izzy started to lift the crying baby out of his bassinette, Gary said he would do it. No, she said, she could. Gary was having one of his insecure moments and he needed to Izzy-lifting-babydo the looking after for the baby. But Izzy insisted. She, I realized, needed to show herself, Gary and the baby that she could lift him out of his cot from a sitting position. Her lack of muscle strength was the reason having a baby at all has always been in doubt for her. So she has to prove she has the physical strength and stamina to do it.

The poor baby, a preemie at that, is caught between two people desperately trying to prove that they can do what they fear they can’t. My husband says it’s Izzy and Gary who need monitoring by adults.

Corrie Street Aug. 11/13

C is for Coping

Hayley-outside-hospital copingIf I ran Corrie, I’d have it in the contracts for some actors that they could never ever leave Corrie no matter what. Julie Hesmondhaigh would be one of those actors. Her character Hayley is needed by all of us. But I do not run Coronation Street.

This week Hayley has been coping with her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and has had to tell Roy. Two scenes on Monday were heartbreakingly brilliant.

The first was when Hayley was being hectored by Beth for Hayley-in-factory-officemiscounting Beth’s knicker output. Carla, knowing something may be wrong, got Hayley out of the situation and into her office. There, Hayley broke down. She couldn’t keep up the brave façade any longer and told Carla she had a tumour. Carla hauled her bottle out of her cupboard and waved it toward Hayley who said no. Carla said she could certainly use a drink herself, speaking perhaps for us all.

Hayley-at-cafe-doorHeading home, Hayley steeled herself to tell Roy and Sylvia. Their faces made words unnecessary. Sylvia’s face said ‘dear God in Heaven, how will we get through this?’ and Roy’s face said ‘What?’ Sylvia’s expression conveyed love, sorrow and worry in equal parts; Roy’s, total incomprehension. He roy says going to be with hersoon rallied, however, and ran for his Mr Fix-it hat. Off to the library, the internet, the doctor; looking for alternatives, for better answers.

Wednesday’s episode ended on a shocker. Roy angrily blurting out at Audrey’s party that Hayley was fatally ill. Despite his Royston-like behaviour of obsessing in the “interweb” as Sylvia put it, his betrayal of Hayley’s confidence seemed uncharacteristic. Watching, Hayley-angry-at-Roywe discussed whether this was believable in light of Roy’s distress or if it was plot-driven writing in order to have everyone on the street find out. Our conclusion was that if the question even comes to mind, the writing needed reworking.

But the follow-up scene on Hayley-finishes-her-champagneThursday helped soften the shock of such un-Roy-like behaviour. Hayley told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of what he’d done, even defiantly finishing her glass of champagne. He realized the enormity of his error. I think the whole scene should have been part of the same episode without splitting it for cliffhanger effect.

Sylvia-talks-sense-to-RoyBack home that evening, Sylvia told Roy that Hayley didn’t need him looking for cures, that she had doctors for that and they knew more about it than he did. What Hayley needed was just him and his love and support. Roy listened to his mother.

When Hayley came from her bath, he’d made her something to eat. Expecting cheese-on-toastsome revolting healthful concoction, she told him thanks but no thanks. But he unveiled the plate to show her cheese on toast and brickmaker’s tea, strong enough to stand a spoon in. And then, with a bit of prompting by Hayley, he hugged her and held her close. She told him her fear of dying. He said he wished only that it could be him instead of her.  She said that would be worse for her.

if-that-makes-me-selfishThis storyline is being done absolutely beautifully. Still, I wish it wasn’t being done at all. Coping will be difficult.

Corrie Street Aug. 4/13

Mother Sylvia

Despite her pointed observations (usually accurate if not tactfully phrased), Sylvia is a truly warm-hearted person. A woman who acknowledges shortcomings, including her Sylviaown, and recognizes a person’s strengths. She knows when to confront issues and when it’s best to back off. As they say, a pillar of strength. I wish she’d adopt me.

On Thursday Hayley came home, rattled by being called back to the doctor’s office almost immediately after an inconclusive and unsettling ultrasound. Roy wanted to be supportive and interested in her world after putting her through the stress of his problems. Had she been shopping, had she bought anything nice? Hayley didn’t know how to answer him. Sylvia covered for her beautifully by telling him he couldn’t understand a woman’s approach to shopping, you don’t necessarily come home with anything.

As soon as she had shooed him out of the room, she turned to Hayley. Concerned but Sylvia-and-Hayleybusiness-like, she asked what did they say. Hayley explained that she hadn’t been given any answers, just more reason for concern. Sylvia didn’t press for more information, didn’t ask more questions when she saw Hayley was frightened and couldn’t answer. She just gave her a huge lovely hug. Hayley and Roy are going to need Sylvia to get through the adversities both are dealing with, separately and together. Especially now, after Friday’s news.

I am away right now and wrote this before Sunday’s episodes were posted on CBC’s site, so I cannot get photos from the episode. My apologies.

Spoilers

I hate spoilers.  It’s like walking into a movie as someone walks out of the previous screening and says “I would have never guessed it was the good guy that did it.”  Spoilers Spoilers Alert kittensare like seeing your Christmas presents by accident.  When I was a kid I did not want even a clue about what I might be getting.  I still don’t.  And I don’t want to know what’s coming up on Coronation Street.  So I avoid UK Coronation Street sites.  I only read Canadian timeline sites said to be “spoiler-free”.  So imagine my disappointment when I learn something I didn’t want to know, whether it’s in a post, a comment or a tweet.  They may not be intentional spoilers, but they spoil anyway.

Right now, I know two characters are leaving, due to posts on Canadian sites saying something like “Since so-and-so is leaving the show, we wonder if this is how they are going to write him/her out”.  Well, no, I didn’t know so-and-so was leaving and didn’t want to.  To add insult to injury, I know the circumstances for the departure of one of those characters thanks to a tweet posted on a Canadian site and a well-intentioned ad on another one.  For sure, the tweet and ad could have waited a week or so until we all in Canada see on our screens the particular event.

Sometimes, real life events make real-life news and therefore spoilers are unavoidable.  The death of actress Betty Driver made us all know that, sadly, we would also the face the news item about death of Betty Driver in Daily-Mail-15-Oct-2011death of her character Betty Williams.  Real-life reporting of legal problems meant we would somehow see the characters of Kevin and Ken being written out of the show. Those things I can accept because they are newsworthy realities.  Even the big anniversaries with special stories and lots of promotion – impossible to avoid.

But an actor deciding to leave or a contract not being renewed?  If I were in the UK, I probably would know about it because of mainstream press coverage.  But I do not live there.  I learned the hard way, on British media sites, to employ tunnel vision when reading articles.  I do not look at ads or promo lines for “in other news”.  If I must go on a UK Corrie site, I have developed the ability to scan without actually reading to avoid digesting bits of information I don’t want to know.

I do everything in my power to avoid spoilers so it makes me feel let down when they pop up on Canadian sites that profess to be spoiler-man with many hands over facefree.  They are enjoyable sites to read, to see what other Canadian Corrie fans are thinking.  But too often, even there, I have learned things that ruin my pleasure in just watching the story.

At least now, being only two weeks behind the UK, the events in these spoilers come to pass quickly.  But for that length of time, my viewing pleasure is lessened.  And why?  If something is a spoiler, even by a day, is it that difficult to remove or clearly mark it with “SPOILER ALERT”?

A good article in the Calgary Herald about spoilers.

Corrie Street July 28/13

dartboardI avoid on-screen tv guide programme descriptions.  Too often, they give away the whole plot:  “there, saved you the trouble of watching the show, you’re welcome.”  Wednesday, I inadvertently read “Race row in the Rovers.”  Huh?

In the final minutes of the show, in a dispute over a dart throw, play-the-white-manPaul asked Steve to be fair, to “play the white man”.  Lloyd overheard and took umbrage.  Paul snapped back that he hadn’t meant offence, it was just a saying.  Lloyd countered that neither he nor his daughter needed to hear racial slurs, especially from supposed friends, no matter how unintentional.

Brian-hear-hearEveryone tried to smooth it over; Paul didn’t mean anything by it, it was a stupid thing to say, let’s just get the drinks in and forget it.  The only other person to pointedly criticize Paul was Brian, as a school principal always vigilant about discrimination and bullying.  Neither Lloyd nor Paul would back down.

A UK blog writer criticizes the show for seeking a “social issue” story by creating dramatic conflict unrealistically:

‘I suspect in a real working class Manchester pub the conversation would have gone something like:

Paul: “Play the white man”.

Lloyd: “What do you mean you cheeky bastard?”

Paul: “What? I wasn’t talking to you”

Lloyd: “Play the white man? As if you lot are better than us?”

Paul: “Oh shit yea, I didn’t think of it like that, sorry mate, just a turn of phrase. Fancy a pint?”

Lloyd: “Cheers yea, pint of bitter please mate. Fancy a game of darts?”’

Maybe that would be the case, at least between two friends like these.  It’s not like it’s a hear-nonsense-like-thatrandom guy saying something offensive or taking offense, an extra brought in for the scene.  This is a group of long time friends.  However, both men are very stressed and neither knows about the other’s problems.  Paul is being raked over the coals at work for chastising kids for making prank emergency calls.  Being taken to task again for what he sees as overreactive political correctness is too much for Lloyd-you-tell-mehim.  Lloyd is caught in the middle of an argument between Jenna and Mandy, and is still smarting from Mandy reminding him that he had only been a father to Jenna for five minutes so why did he think he had the right to say anything.  Use of an old expression, and reaction to its racist connotations, is the spark that set off the underlying anger both feel.

An interesting thing was Jason’s reaction.  His father is black, his mother is white.  And JasonPaul is his mother’s boyfriend.  You could see the hamster wheel turning in his head as he tried to decide if he should accept that Paul meant no ill will or if he should be offended on his own behalf.  No one else seemed to think about Jason having a personal stake in this except, finally, Lloyd who tried to recruit him for his side.

Last week I watched a CNN interview with a prosecution witness in the George Zimmerman trial.  She explained the difference in meaning of “cracka” versus “cracker”.  “With an a” is not a racial slur; “with e-r” she didn’t know, her generation wasn’t familiar with the term.  With such nuanced speech I-am-not-a-racistdifferentiation, I could imagine a lot of room for misinterpretation.  So too is there with sayings so long entrenched that their meanings can be forgotten.

The use of one such saying in this storyline is an interesting premise for exploring societal sensitivities, made better by it take-that-backinvolving a closely connected family/friend unit. By the end of the week, Paul is more upset about being seen as racist and Lloyd wants to finally take a public stand against racism so neither will take the first step to reconciliation.