Missing syrup has Canadian Federation in sticky situation

There are some days when the news gods smile on satire writers like me, and today is one of those days. I heard a news story so good that I wish I could say I had made it up. But I can’t because, sadly, it’s all true.

Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

There’s a sticky situation going on for the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation. Yup, Even saying there’s a syrup federation sounds delightfully made up, as if this were OPEC or the Rebel Alliance. But, with syrup going for $1,800 per barrel, or about 13 times the price of a barrel of oil, the maple syrup heist is nothing to laugh at.

You can read the entire story of syrupy intrigue here, but in the meantime here’s the sticky details. Earlier this year an audit of the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve (Yes! There really is a strategic maple syrup reserve!) revealed 6 million pounds of the sweet liquid were missing, replaced by empty barrels or barrels containing water. The investigation eventually led to a tale of skullduggery involving  a leading syrup producer in New Brunswick, Etienne St. Pierre, Jacques Leblond, and a host of others that sound like the extras from Les Misérables.

Fortunately, in the latest development, the thieves have been pancaked, with several arrested and some of the missing syrup recovered. But the drama continues as syrup officials are unsure how sales of the stolen syrup will affect the global syrup market, and concerns from Quebec over continuing control of the syrup cartel.

And we thought nothing interesting was happening in the news this week!

© Huffygirl 2013

Bucket List

Earlier in life, I never had a bucket list. In fact, I didn’t even know what a bucket list was until that movie came out. I thought I had all the time in world to do whatever I wanted, and that I’d just take life as it comes. Until lately.

No, don’t worry, I’m not dying. But lately I’ve ventured into some things that I never thought I’d be doing, such as running a 5K race, and biking more than 4,000 miles. So when people ask what possessed me to do such crazy things “at my age” I came up with the pat answer of “it’s on my bucket list.” So naturally,  I had to come up with a few more things, or the bucket list would just be a bucket.

Here’s the list so far. And just to make me look more accomplished, I’ve  added some things I had already done, so I’d  have something to check off.

  • Run a 5 K race √
  • Travel to a European country √
  • Get resting heart rate below 60
  • Start a blog √
  • Visit Hawaii
  • Acquire wonderful grandchildren √
  • Finish my three unfinished novels
  • Read and understand “A Tale of Two Cities”, and not just the Disney version
  • See my name in print on something besides a  jury summons
  • Watch the Cubs win the World Series

Looks like I better get busy since I’ve only got four check marks*  so far, but now thanks to blogger buddy Lisa Winkler of Cyclingrandma.wordpress.com, I can check off one more. Lisa, in a fit of ambition, gumption and doggone determination, corralled and cajoled (actually it didn’t take much cajoling) a gaggle of women bloggers to submit works for a collection of essays on the smatterings of life. Although most of us do not know each other in real life, we’re forever bonded as sister authors in our now published collection of writings, “Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life.”** So besides checking off “see name in print” I can also check off “use blog for shameless self-promotion” as you can glean all the publication details here or here, and connect with the other authors and their blogs here. All profits from this handy little pocket-sized book will be donated to a charity to fight the neurodegenerative disorder, Huntington’s disease, a cause dear to the heart of one of the authors.

Besides having the glowing feeling of accomplishment to be included with the likes of such distinguished women writers, I can also bask in the knowledge that although I’m now searchable on Amazon, I still do not appear on a Google, search, although about 500 other women with my name do, including one who lives, of all places, in  Hortonville.

(Thanks Lisa, for all your hard work!)

**No tangerines were harmed in the making of this book.

* Yes, I know this is a square root sign and not a check mark, but it’s the closest thing to a  check mark that WordPress has, and I’m not going to post a bucket list without being able to check things off, dammit.

© Huffygirl 2012

Family Ties

Grandchildren. Orthopedic surgery. Arthritis. Cancer. Cholesterol. That’s what we talked about this weekend at my husband’s sibling reunion, while we took lazy boat rides, and sat around the dinner table long after the food was gone. The topics are different from many years ago, but the people are the same.

Playing Yahtzee. Drinking beer around the campfire. Staying up way later than usual for cribbage bragging rights. Eating food made from favorite family recipes. We had chopped bologna, Special K bars,  and hobo pies – old standards for my husband’s family. If it was my family,the nostalgia food would have been homemade potato salad, Polish sausage and Jello.

So many families today are fractured, dysfunctional, broken. My husband and I were lucky to grow up when family life was honored and cherished. We had Sundays at Grandma’s house after church, cookies and milk with our moms at the kitchen table after school, and family dinner every single night. There was no late night sports practice, soccer games, or working on Sundays to interrupt these traditions. To miss dinner with the family was unheard of. And miss church on Sunday? Don’t even think about it.

Our family glue is gone – both sets of parents have passed away. All we have left to hold our families together are each other. The people we fought with over riding shotgun, slept alongside of on sultry summer nights, and covered for when they stayed out past curfew. These people. Our siblings.

We cherish them. We hold dear our time together. Someday, we’ll be the aging parents. We’ll sit in front rows at funerals, while grown-up grandchildren help us with our canes and hush us for talking so loud. We’ll count off who is gone, who is left. We’ll tell quaint childhood stories over and over, but not remember what we ate for breakfast. But I hope we will always remember them, our siblings.

© Huffygirl 2012

(Special thanks to MSB for the photos.)

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The sea is as smooth as glass…

“The sea is as smooth as glass. Let’s take off our shoes and stockings, and paddle” Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan

The two stretched out on the sandy beach, tired from clambering across the rocky shore. Done with wading through water waist deep, done with searching through wave-washed stones . The heat beat up from the 100 degree sand. “It’s too hot and too bright to read,” she said. “It’s too hot to walk anymore,” he said. The two sat in companionable silence, appreciating every small whiff of breeze coming off of the water. “What can we do?” she said. “We never relax,” he said. “We’re always doing something.” “It’s true,” she said. “Even when we think we’re relaxing, we’re not. We pop up from watching TV to do ironing or dishes. We never sit still. We’re too busy seizing life, afraid to miss something and grow old.” “Why don’t we just relax? ” he said. “We hardly ever do.”

And so the two sat stretched out upon the sultry beach. They watched the distant storm clouds gather. They watched birds glide overhead. They savored the increasing wisps of breezes. And they relaxed.

© Huffygirl 2012

(Inspired by the works of Winsomebella Thanks Bella for your beautiful words and photos!)

No Fooling: Iceland hopes to adopt Canadian currency

Due to its soaring value against the American ...

Due to its soaring value against the American currency, the Canadian dollar was the Newsmaker of the Year for 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in the beginning of April, I wrote about how the US is adopting the Canadian penny as a replacement for its own penny. I thought this was  a great idea and made a lot of cents, er sense: Canada has a whole bunch of pennies sitting around that they don’t want, and the US is spending a lot of money producing pennies, so why not put the idle coins to use? The only problem? I wrote the post on April 1st, as my annual April Fool’s Day spoof. Sadly, it all turns out to be a fable.

But now, this idea is back, and this time it’s real. Iceland, no doubt after Iceland treasury authorities read my April 1st post, is contemplating adopting the Canadian dollar, known as the loonie, to replace their current dollar equivalent, the krona. Iceland thinks the Canadian dollar is a more stable currency than its cousins, the Euro and American dollars, and probably rightly so. Canadian currency lacks the baggage of its Euro and American cousin’s debt, bailouts, unemployment and banking scandals. And let’s face it, Canada is just a nice country, filled with nice, nice people, who seem pretty willing to share their currency and probably just about anything else.

If the Canadian-Icelandic loonie deal goes though, who knows what’s next? Icelanders changing their national anthem to “O Icelandia, our home and native land …” Icelanders having a sudden penchant to imbibe in Labatt or Molson? Iceland changing its national sport to hockey? Icelanders suddenly spouting things like “Eh?” and “aboot” ? The possibilities are endless, and bodes well for bloggers and late-night TV hosts.

Mother doesn’t want a dog: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. It’s time to get your poetry on, if you have any that is. Time to write poems, read  poems, discuss poems.

I must confess I’ve never been that good at poetry. I occasionally write poems, usually from a fleeting spurt of inspiration. If I don’t get the words down when the inspiration hits, poof, it’s gone. If I do write poetry, it’s almost always of the rhyming type, and often inspired by an event such as a holiday, someone’s birthday, or by some cause I’m all worked up about. When my local newspaper cut back from being a nice daily newspaper to a three-day a week paper, with a crummy, hard to access online version, I was inspired to pen this verse to the local editor:

“I’ve tried to be open-minded, I’ve given it a good try,

But reading your e-replica on Android just makes me want to cry.

 What were you thinking when you came up with such a clunky set up?

You should have tried harder so your subscriptions would not let up!

 Gazette on Kindle equals “D minus”, on Android equals fail.

No Doonesbury, no NY Times Crossword – it all makes me want to wail!

 You took away my favorite parts,

and gave me boring self-help columnists whose words hit me like darts

 Your new Gazette just makes me want to holler,

and long for the old days when newspapers were worth every dollar.”

(Original poem by Huffygirl, © 2012)

The editor, though impressed with my verse, did nothing to improve the paper, It’s still crummy, still doesn’t work on Android, and still lacks the NYT crossword and Doonesbury. But, I digress.

The Poetry Whisperer, age seven.

My happiest poetry moment occurred when my youngest son was in second grade. He had a teacher, Sister Salmonella, who turned out to be an awful teacher, but had one good quality, which was having the students memorize and recite poetry. What could be cuter than a group of sweet-faced seven-year-olds  standing together and reciting funny rhyming poems to their doe-eyed parents? Listening to their recitation would just make your heart melt.

The highlight of the poetry recitation came around Mother’s Day. Sister Salmonella had the students memorize the poem “Mother doesn’t want a dog” by Judith Viorst, and coached them to recite it at home for their moms on Mother’s Day. My son, being the darling little boy that he was, took it to the next level. After reciting the poem for me, he sat his seven-year old self down at my new state of the art word processor (okay, that’s a fancy typewriter) that I had gotten from my husband for Mother’s Day, and hunted and pecked until he had typed out the entire poem for me. Ah, heart melting all over again. I framed it and still have it today.(Insert contented motherly sigh here.)

May your poetry month be rhyming and cheery, and I hope all those poems don’t make you grow weary!

© Huffygirl 2012

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Celebrating good old-fashioned grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Photo credit: powerplantop)

This probably seems odd. The woman who proclaims herself as “…waging a one-woman war against cheese” is excited about National Grilled Cheese Month. First, let me clarify: I’m not opposed to cheese itself, just the overuse of cheese, such as when every item on the restaurant menu includes cheese;  and the use of “cheese-like food” being passed off as cheese.

But grilled cheese? That’s the ultimate Mom food. I relish my childhood memories of Mom making us grilled cheese sandwiches on Fridays. Having grilled cheese was a treat, a departure from our usual tuna or egg salad. Mom didn’t really like to cook, and getting out a frying pan to make grilled cheese bordered on cooking, so it didn’t happen often. I’d watch the process with anticipation. First, she got out a stick of margarine, and set it on top of the gas range near the pilot light for a few minutes to soften. Of course we had real, old-fashioned margarine, not the light buttery vegetable oil spreads like we have today. She’d slather two slices of soft white bread with margarine while the frying pan was heating, then peel off a thick slab of American cheese from the package. Real American cheese, not  the slippery, plastic wrapped “cheese-like food slices” of today. If I was really lucky, I’d get to have chocolate milk, and maybe even potato chips, but the sandwich was so good alone, that really didn’t matter. I liked my sandwich well-toasted, pretty close to burned. I’m still not sure if I developed that taste on my own, or just expected it that way, as Mom tended to over-cook most things on our ancient gas stove. I’d sit at the red kitchen table, my feet swinging far above the floor, and enjoy my greasy, drippy cheese sandwich on a special Friday afternoon.

Since I’ve  developed a dairy allergy in adulthood, I can’t join in the National Grilled Cheese Month festivities. But if I could, I’m be making a grilled cheese sandwich today just like Mom used to make.

What’s your favorite grilled cheese memory?

© Huffygirl 2012

Do not be alarmed – I’m okay!

Deutsch: English: X-ray of a right shoulder wi...
Image via Wikipedia

I had surgery on my right shoulder today. Nothing serious, although it did turn out to have more things wrong in there than anticipated. At the last minute I had thoughts of putting it off for a better time. But there really is no good time when it comes to things like elective surgery. One can always think of some reason why now is a bad time to have it done. So I got up early, showered with pink antibacterial soap, had my husband write “yes” on my right shoulder, and “no !!!!” on my left shoulder, and off we went, where I was scrubbed some more, given an attractive “one size fits all large people” gown to wear, and bonked into oblivion with multiple kinds of modern-day anesthesia. All this, and back home in time for lunch. 

Surgery has certainly evolved from the good old days when I first studied nursing. Over  thirty years ago this surgery would have been done with a big open incision, and a several-day hospital stay. Or more likely it would not have been done at all, as a male surgeon would have said to me “you’re a middle-aged woman with ‘a little arthritis’ – just live with it.” Of course, it turned out be more than just ‘a little arthritis.’  It was arthritis, calcific tendonitis, a small rotator cuff tear, bursitis and a labral tear, in case you wanted to know.

But meanwhile I’m having a dickens of a time typing this, and just a tiny bit worried that I might be accidentally saying something goofy so soon out of anesthesia, so I’ll stop here. Maybe I’ll post some pictures later in the week, so I’ll warn the squeamish readers now, just in case. Meanwhile, I have even greater respect for blogger buddy Mark, of The Idiot Speaketh, who is bed-bound recovering from foot surgery. My gig sounds like a piece of cake in comparison. Good recovery Mark, and at least now you have someone with whom to commiserate.

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Urban adventure: Exploring the first big snow

We had our first big snow of the winter here. It started out as rain on New Year’s Day, until a fierce afternoon wind brought cold, turning the rain to fluffy snow.  This morning I woke to 8-10 inches of snow and temperatures that had dropped 20 degrees from the day before. Knowing that folks tend to overreact to the first big snow, in part fueled by media weather hype, I decided to check the cancellations before heading out. I only had a few minutes to scramble around to figure out if the gym was still open before I ventured out for spin class. Five minutes later when I realized I still don’t know how to find the channels on our new TV, I went to my trusty computer screen to see that the gym was still indeed open. Not much else closed, but still being holiday time, there was no school to cancel.

It was one of those days where people like me who grew up with snowy winters and knowing how to drive on snow are not alarmed. I spent the morning baking and watching the birds and squirrels trying to find the seed I had put out the night before. Later I went out to get some scenic photos and do some shopping. The park where I stopped to take photos was eerily empty. I made my own path slogging  through the fresh, deep snow, even falling once, landing hands outstreched, the  camera around my neck emerging dusted with snow. The busiest street in town on the way to Best Buy was strangely deserted. Maybe it was a combination of fear of bad roads, football fans staying home to watch games, and folks with no money left for shopping, but most people stayed in . I felt like an urban adventurer, having the city mostly to myself. 

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© Huffygirl 2012

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