Friday, January 19, 2007

Fishing chippie

Growing up we often had fish and chips on Fridays. Being raised catholic and all, and being from a predominantly catholic neighbourhood, just about everybody was eating that same dinner every friday. Not from a shop either, but home fried. If we were lucky (and most often we were) it was fresh-caught-then-frozen fish that my uncle supplied or we caught ourselves. Usually perch or pickeral, but he also went on long distance fishing trips. The kind where they flash freeze your catch on the water and ship it home for you. Or can it! Can you imagine catching your own salmon and bringing home a case of cans? Freaky LOL. We had Portuguese neighbours who would sometimes drop off a large cod. And I mean LARGE. Sometimes moving. We did our own smelt fishing every year as well. I remember running around the bank in my snow suit, watching the men wade in the water with the nets. It was dark outside, and it was always a big surprise when I realized the water was not glinting, but rather the silvery bodies of what seemed like a million tiny fish being hauled onto the beach. The men hauled the nets up and dumped the contents onto the sand. Then the children and whoever else wanted to scrambled along, grabbing handfuls of the slippery things and tossing them into whatever containers were handy. Bushel baskets, pop crates, styrofoam coolers. Then the still moving fish were driven home and dumped over a snow bank in the back yard. If it was nice enough we would sit at the picnic table, if not then the kitchen table covered in a thick layer of newspaper. I was like four, and already knew how to take a pair of scissors, insert it into the "vent" on the belly, one quick SNIP!. Squeeze out the icky stuff in the middle. Then snip off the head and toss it into a dishpan to be rinsed under water. Can't recall scaling them. Do they even have scales? I seem to remember they do. I DO remember the SMELL. Bleah. "Fresh fish should not smell, it should have the aroma of the sea". Well, first of all it is a LAKE. And second of all, have you smelled that water lately? Not exactly a bed of roses by friend. The smallest ones were set aside to be battered and fried that evening. Our favourite part was the crunchy tail and fins. Now, I am not telling you all this to gross you out. No sirree. I actually remember those days with fondness. We got to stay up late and run around on the beach in winter. We got to chase little fish flipping around on the sand. Sometimes we got the bright idea to hide one of those little fishies in our pocket. You know, to play with later. Or maybe with the intent to drop it into the aquarium and keep it as a pet. Maybe even just for safe keeping so we can grab another handful to bring to the bucket. But inevitably we would forget about that poor thing, and it would die in that warm pocket. And our snow suits would be hung up in the downstairs hallway. And in a few days, the stench would be unbearable! And mother would go looking to see what the problem was, and find our little fishie friends and BOY would we get in trouble. It was like our "thing". Some people have a special meal, or trip, or holiday tradition. We had dead fish in snowsuit pockets. To each their own. The bigger fish were rinsed and cleaned up a bit (maybe scaled?) and then frozen in baggies to use later. We ate those ones the same way as perch, fins and tail removed. As we got older, we were less and less involved in the process, until we would even refuse to help round up the flipping and flopping haul, and finally, would not even eat them anymore. We pinched our noses at the smell and screamed and hollared and gagged and insisted it was the most disgusting event in our lives. And really, it kind of was LOL. I don't know when and how, but I developed an aversion to fish with skin on it. Smelt are too small to skin, as are perch and most people don't bother skinning pickerel either. I am the wasteful sort that would rather have to buy or catch twice as many and go ahead and take the time to remove that bit, thank you. My uncle knew this, and sometimes he would deliver a SPECIAL bag of fish for me. Clean and pristine, not a scale or scrap of skin or bloodline in sight. Not so much as a trace of silver or dark meat. He spoiled me like that. Some time in the eighties alcohol finally pickled his brain and at this point he doesn't really even know who I am most of the time. But once in a while he delivers a package of venison or elk sausage, or pristine fish fillets to my dad to give to me. Tonight I am recreating a fish and chip supper, with many concessions. No deep frying. And frozen cod from the grocery store. I will make a vinagrette of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and dried thyme and pour it over the fish. Then it will be baked until it flakes easily with a fork. At the same time, I will making "oven fries". Chipped potatoes tossed with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil, roasted until brown and crisp. Sure, not as good as the deep fried kind. But with a drizzle of good dark vinegar and extra salt, more than acceptable. Some good cole slaw with oil and vinegar dressing (and a LOT of finely ground black pepper) and a small pan of biscuits. And if I am really feeling nostalgic, I will serve the fries in a folded newspaper hat like my mother used to do for us, and her mother used to do for her.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

House of plague

DD is sick. Really sick. Yesterday she had a low grade fever and was grumpy. This morning, I woke to DH, holding her in his arms like a rag doll, yelling in a panicky voice "SHE IS REALLY HOT". According to our brand spanking new digital thermometer, she had a fever of 104.6 and yep, that is pretty warm! I got him to calm down, and put her DOWN before he drops her. It's so funny, half the time I can't tell if he has any connection to us at all, then suddenly he does something like this. I think if I would have suggested to bring her to the hospital, he very well may have tried to carry her like that the whole way. As I was running cool water over a cloth and gathering motrin and spoon and some water I gently explained that while sleeping it is not unusual for a fever to raise somewhat. After all, a fever makes us shiver and we instinctively bundle up. She was snug as a bug in a rug under there, so a degree or two is from that. I also assured him that 104 is a normal number in my family. We go from one or two degrees below normal to 104 in a heartbeat. Tiny bit sick = really high fever. I don't think it was making him any calmer, he was dancing back and forth on his feet like a nervous horse, making wringing motions with his hands. I've never seen him so WORRIED. I changed her into new pj's, had her sip some water, drugged her up, and wiped her down with the cool cloth. Then I made him go away and finish getting ready for work, promising her fever would come down a bit before he even had a chance to leave. And it did, down to 100 degrees (which is where it has been hovering since). Poor baby. You know she is sick, even without the temp readings, because she is sitting still. If she stops asking for stuff or doesn't complain at all THEN I will get worried. DH has called about every 30 minutes, and being as busy I am with work, then the exra demands of having DD at home I really don't have time for it. But I won't complain to him because he really is worried, and golly, he SHOULD show some concern for his child, I think. This is healthy for him. BUT. His big crime, for which he is in SO MUCH TROUBLE when he comes home? HE TOLD HIS MOTHER. That ass called his mother and told her DD was sick. What is he, an idiot? So on top of his calls, I have HER calls. And with big projects going on I can't screen calls. When the phone rings, it's like a lottery of terror, not knowing if it will be him demanding a new temp reading and health report or her accusing me of some other act of negligence or cause of this horrible sickness. First it started with the swimming. Yep, we allowed our daughter to swim in Florida and that has made her deathly ill. As we all know, immersing ones body in water is deadly and should be avoided at all costs. Then it was because I let her eat a donut in the airport. MIL can shovel a tonne of garbage into DD's mouth in place of food, but my single donut upset the child's delicate balance and allowed her system to be invaded by some terrible american plague. The most recent was an accusation that the snowy trek we took when my car froze will certainly be her end. How did she even find out about that? DH is in even MORE trouble when he gets home, mister! DH is no better, when it comes to nervousness about illness. Wringing his hands and saying over and over "How could this have happened? She was fine the other day. How can she be so sick? Do you think she has a sinus infection?" Now, to his family, there is a fate worse than death and it is known as the SINUS INFECTION. None of them have ever had one, but it would be the death of whoever gets one for sure. They live in fear of this SINUS INFECTION and wonder if it can be gotten from public toilets, or perhaps leaving the house with wet hair. Don't even mention swimming or taking a bath. MIL has a relative that died from SINUS INFECTION. Never mind the person was in his eighties, diabetic, suffered from emphysema and had pervasive cancer. What makes her think he even had the dreaded infection? "He had a cough. And he sniffed twice while we were there. Sinus. See?". Makes me want to short circuit. I have had sinus infections. And they are horrible. But not typically deadly. And every time DD so much as coughs or sniffs they just about run around in circles screaming SINUS! SINUS INFECTION! The child is going to die! I am going to say something. Loud. Clear. SHE DOES NOT HAVE A SINUS INFECTION. There. Now can they all stop running around like chicken little for gosh sakes?!?!?!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rescue me.

Yesterday I was so busy with work and stuff I barely had time to breathe, let alone blog. First of all, my car froze shut. Not from freezing rain, but rather the melted frozen rain that got into the seal of the door. So there I was, trying to leverage the door open with all my weight while hanging on to that little handle with my fingertips. Then I thought I would use the "rocking" principle and push on the door alternately with pulling with all the might I have in those fingertips. No go. Perhaps a sharp blow can break that ice seal? So I kicked the door along the bottom. Lightly. Nope. Then a little harder. Then I basically kicked the crap out of it. In mid kick I realized I was kicking the THREE THOUSAND DOLLAR DOOR and got the giggles. Not the good kind either. The kind that suggest it would be best to step back. Or maybe even run away from me. So DD and I walked to school. Not necessarily a bad thing, but poor DD was ripped from her bed and dumped into the snow and she was not so happy about that. And it was COLD. That wind was something else. The walk itself was kind of nice (I like walking in the snow) but the circumstances were not. DD refused to wear her hat and gloves, and MAN does that push my buttons. I know when it is cold enough to need a hat, I don't want to hear ONE WORD that you are cold! We made it less than half a block before she agreed to put them on. I just wish we could avoid that fight in the first place. Why can't she wear them then take them off and stash them in her bag once she is out of sight like normal kids? Sheesh. I had an appointment that I could NOT walk to. So there I was, again, dangling by my fingertips, practically in tears from frustration, and the door would not budge. A nieghbour sauntered over. "I assume you have tried ALL the doors" he said, then regrouped when he saw the look on my face. "Oh. My. Yes, I suppose you have". So now there were two of us, hanging by the door handle by our fingertips, grunting and swearing. No way was I dumping hot water in there so it could freeze up again even worse! A hair dryer did NOTHING but fog the window. I was getting desperate. Finally, what worked? I hung off the door while he wedged a pair of BBQ tongs in the crack of the opening and we pried that sucker open. The BBQ tongs are toast but we didn't scratch the paint and the door got open. Thanks neighbour! My appointment was awful. Then I had to get my licence sticker renewed. I called beforehand to make sure I could renew at a kiosk rather than the office if I needed an emissions test, and I was told as long as I had the test that would work fine. Guess what? Wasted trip. I was able to get two thank you cards and gifts while at the mall though. Then back over to the license bureau to get the sticker. Why does it bother me that the person did not even glance at my license, insurance, or emission test results? Wasn't that the whole purpose of having to go there, instead of renewing at a kiosk? Fricken fracken succotash! Then back home to meet with the pet sitter, to pay her for feeding the animals while we were gone. A long time ago I learned that it was best not to leave the feeding and care of the pets at home to family members. Ruby goes to somebody's house when we go on vacation, and I have a pet sitter come to feed and water the cats, the bird, and look after the fish. I feel more secure knowing that it is somebody's JOB to do this, and not a favour. Because sometimes favours, well, they don't always work out. For 15 dollars a day I can relax and know that the cats are being fed, the paper is being brought in, and all is well. And this time was no exception. When we sent Ruby to stay with my sister, I sent her measured amounts of food and stuff for her. They ran out after a few days, which tells me my sister is not so much into accurate measurement. I had an emergency stash of frozen food, and she had to go get that. And the pet sitter noticed something was moved, and contacted us right away. It was confirmation that we made a good choice. I got her a datebook with golden lab puppies on the front and high-end dog sayings and quotes inside. I always get her a thank you gift, which embarasses her every time. But man, you don't know how happy it makes me to know the animals are being well taken care of while we are not here. For my sister, I got a beanie baby black poodle puppy that will make her cry. She misses her doggie so bad. Sigh. I wish she would just bite the bullet and get one now instead of waiting. We all feel so sad for her. We found out YESTERDAY that DD has no school today. I don't know if she was excited or what, but she was out of bed every hour last night. Cover me up. I need water (which is right on her headboard, but I guess it was closer to come get ME from the other room than try to reach her hand up there). I have to go to the bathroom. I am done going to the bathroom. Cover me up. I think I heard a noise. The cat looked in at me. AARGH! I was ready to kill her. So this morning, she gets to sleep in and woke up with a headache. I WONDER WHY! I am shipping her off for the afternoon though, she is too high maintenance to keep home while I work. So that brings us to now. My email has been pinging like wildfire, so I guess I should go take care of that. OR. Or, you can come and get me and we can play hookey from life for a day and do fun things like get pedicures and shop and eat donut holes and drink coffee at the shop, then go look at and touch kitchen wares at one of those high end stores, and go to Chapters so I can look for a new knitting book, and maybe stop at one of those gourmet shops so I can look for Champagne vinegar. Okay? I'll be on the porch waiting.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ruby missed us. I think.

Well, it took my dog a full two hours to recognize me. My parents picked us up from the airport, and my sister had the dog home already and the house open. It is nice to come home to the lights on and activity, rather than a dead house. I think anyway. DH was a bit perturbed that they let themselves in. I guess it's okay for his parents to come in and redecorate, but my sister can't bring the dog home. Whatever LOL. Ruby was happy enough to see everybody. But it wasn't until all the visitors left that she suddenly looked at me, did a little whine, then climbed all over me. She licked my face like she hadn't seen me in a year. I said "What, did you just realize who I was???" Tee hee. So we are home. Freezing rain, grey skies, yep. Home ;). DD is back to school. Dh and I are back to work. Ruby is back to sleep under the desk. The cats are back into getting into everything and dropping things on my head through the spindles (today so far, a hair band, a bit of cat food, a polly pocket shoe, and a piece of paper that looks like it came off a toothpick). Frankie the bird is back to snubbing the apple slices we give him (okay okay! I'll get the good ones next time) and the fish look happy to see me. Even the snail came out. Dh says it is wrong that even the fish recognize me. He says nothing loves HIM and they all love ME. I kept my mouth shut LOL. Something is going on across the street (the house neighbour abandoned). The mother must have taken over the payments because she fixed the place up (re-did flooring, changed the cupboards, I don't know what else) and there is a for sale sign up. Plus they had an open house yesterday. Nobody went by (freezing rain is not conducive to browsing homes methinks). We wanted to see what changes were made, but I feel funny going to open houses when we aren't REALLY looking, 'ya know? So, back to the same old same old. I might have some vacation pictures to post tomorrow. Right now I need a hot cup of tea to defrost my soul.