Wave over Wave

Vacation winds down and not a surprised my flight is delayed.  Gives me a the perfect opportunity to write the post I have been drafting in my head since this morning.

The past 6 and half days have been filled with sun, sand and the ocean.  This morning I donned my bathing suit for the last time.  Lathered up in sunscreen and for extra protection, added my rash guard to my look.  Put on my ball cap and sunglasses and started to walk across the beach to the water sports pavillion.

This has been my routine for the past 6 mornings, and finally the water sport guys have figured it out.  I was met half way with my lifejacket.

“One more?”

“Yes, the last  one.”

He measured the paddle for me and while I walked into the water, he pulled out my board. I jumped up and he attached the ankle strap for me.

“Remember to stay where I can see you.”

I looked at him, smiled and he smiled in return.  “I know,” he says.  “You will be going out far.  Just make sure I can see you.”

I get to my feet, find my balance before the next wave comes, and start the 700 metre paddle out to the first buoy.

Instantly I sense that today’s paddle will be different.  While it was windy on the beach, it was not as windy on the water.

Every day my paddles have had a very familiar feeling.  Hard, seemingly soul crushing.  Every day I battled the wind and the waves coming at me from the right, while paddling on the left just to keep a straight line and get out to the buoy.  With each and every paddle stroke, I was so thankful for the hundreds of lat rows, lat pull downs and chin ups that I have done over the past 12 months.  Every single one.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible before the wind knocked me off course.

At the buoy, I maneuver the board to the right and begin the 1km paddle, directly across into the wind and over the waves.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible to avoid being pushed back to where I have come from.

This is the hard work.

Perseverance.

Determination.

Drive.

Every day I battled that wind.  And every day, I won.  After a couple of days of very hard work I learned to feel the wind, look for the wind, anticipate the wind.  I learned that I could see the wind coming, by keeping my eyes on the water.  Looking at the waves and watching for the small, jumpy ripples as they moved towards me.  As the small ripples moved along the water, closer to me, so did the wind.  I braced for it, I paddled harder and eventually moved through it.  The wind and the ripples.  Sometimes the wind was so strong that the effort of my paddling simply kept me in the same spot and did not allow me to drift backwards, but I did not make forward progress either.

I became so focused in my paddling that I was always surprised to see the rocks, my turn around point, so closely in front of me.

I am sure there is a name for the phenomenon I encountered every time I approached those rocks.  A point in which the water was moving in waves towards me, and right in front of me, at the end of my board, waves running away from me towards the rocks.  This was were I would turn around.  Right before being battered into the rocks.

I would have thought the kilometre paddle back to the buoy would be easy with the wind at my back, but it never was.  I still can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe I was just so tired from the paddle to the rocks.  As I approached the buoy, I would maneuver the board to the left and head back to the beach.

Today’s paddle was different.

Less wind.  Wind still, but with less power, less strength.

I easily paddled out to the buoy and turned right.  A balanced paddle, I was not fighting the wind.  I was able to use each arm, each shoulder, each lat muscle.

I could feel the wind on my face, but it never gathered strength.  I paddled, almost effortlessly. The waves today were bigger.  Rolling.  Gently flattening under my board.  Soft knees, I glided over them.  I paid attention.  I watched for the ripples but they never came.

The time for easy had come.  I had worked hard all week and this was my reward.

I paddled across to the rocks and turned around again, like I had the other  6 days this week.  I gently paddled back to the buoy and then back to the beach.

I enjoyed each and every smooth paddle stroke.  I relished in the harmony I created with the wind for today.  The wind and I had become one.  Equals.  Neither one of us having won the battle.  Each of us knowing that on any given day it might be a toss up, but the wind knowing that I was a worthy opponent.

As I approach the beach, my water sports guy meets me.  I come down to my knees on the board and undo the ankle strap.

“Good paddle?”

“Amazing.”

Chili Enough For You?

Yes it’s cold.

20140107-151803.jpg

I heard this morning on the radio, that there is a 100 degree (celcius) difference between the coldest places in Canada, and the hottest places in Australia.

20140107-151947.jpg

Our apartment is an old duplex. With old single pane windows.

20140107-152117.jpg

The heat from inside collides with the cold outside, leaving us with beautiful artwork on our windows.

20140107-152220.jpg

Ok, enough about the weather. It’s winter. Bundle up.

So I’ve been a little bit MIA lately.

One day I was doing this…

20140107-152846.jpg

A 50 kilometer ride under the blue blue sky.

Four days later, I was doing this…

20140107-153000.jpg

A 4 kilometer walk around the golf course, under a blue blue sky.

Two weeks away from the city.
Now, back to reality.

Beloved. Traveling. 12 days.

Two weeks away from the city, not a crumb of food in the house. Beloved left on Sunday for his business trip. The door barely hit him on the back before I was on the phone ordering pizza.

While on vacation, I am always spoiled. Beloved cooks for me. Every night.

Over the years I’ve learned to enjoy cooking. I get great pleasure when I make a meal that my little people, and Beloved, gobble up. But it is not something that comes easily too me. I follow recipes. I organize my meals. And when I don’t do that, I am always at a loss.

Getting back to business, I ventured to the big box store yesterday (Costco) as well as my grocery store. I’ve asked the kids to give me input for some meals over the next two weeks. Even better, I don’t have to do all the thinking.

When I go to Costco, I always buy at least one cooked whole chicken. Last night we had Angels in Heaven Pasta.

I used the bones to make a whole bunch of chicken broth. I bought two chickens, so it made a lot of broth. I will use the broth to make bacon lentil soup, corn chowder and spicy sausage pasta.

I also bought stuff for an night of Indian food. Butter chicken, lentils and curry vegetables. The butter chicken is not homemade. I use Patak’s bottle sauce. I don’t make the side dishes. All prepackaged. But that reminds me that I do have a recipe for curry lentils. Maybe? Should I?

And tonight? Chili.

Slow Cooker Chili

This is a very easy recipe. So easy that it almost doesn’t qualify as cooking. Often I put this all together in the evening, refrigerate it, and put into the slow cooker in the morning. I would also like to add, that living in the north, where the sun sets by 4:30 or 5:00pm in the afternoon, makes it very difficult to take photos. I have a great window in my kitchen, and when I can take pictures during the day, it makes a huge difference.

20140107-212017.jpg

1 lb/450 grams of lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup frozen corn niblets
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can baked beans, flavour of your choice, I use pork and molasses
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 package of chili seasoning

Brown the ground meat in a frying pan until completely cooked.

While the meat is cooking, open the cans of tomatoes, baked beans, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Empty them into a slow cooker.

Open the cans of kidney beans and black beans and empty into a colander. Rinse well with cold water. Add to the slow cooker.

Open the can of mushrooms, drain the water, add to the slow cooker.

Add corn to the slow cooker.

Drain the fat off the cooked meat, add to the slow cooker.

Add the chili seasoning to the slow cooker.

Stir well. Cover. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hours.

Lazy Days

20131108-160055.jpg

Usually a lazy day only happens on vacation.

Today I am lucky. So far. Both little people have the day off school. A treat as one is in public school and one in private school. Unless it is Christmas or March vacation their schedules don’t usually coincide.

So at least for now, they are both in bed. It is quiet. No breakfast to make. No lunches to make. No nagging about homework or gym clothes or library books or bus money.

Beloved is gone to work. Our 4 legged friend is not in bed with me, but rest assured is sleeping somewhere, albeit with his legs crossed waiting for me to get up and take him out for his walk.

And then my day will begin….

Forty-two days until Christmas vacation starts. Forty-four days until we go on holiday. Eight days in what we hope will be the warm sun. And then five days skiing and snowshoeing at our cottage. The best of both worlds.

A couple of years ago, Beloved, the little people and Uncie, made a 4 person human totem pole. But as the little people get bigger, and the big people get older, this becomes more and more challenging.

Don’t worry if you can’t hear the audio. Be amused by the sight.