winding it up

Considering I haven’t posted for about six weeks, it probably won’t be a shock to hear that I’m bringing this blog to an end. I did the math the other day and realized I’ve been blogging for almost ten years, which seems like an awfully long time. Back in 2003 I moved from the city to a rural acreage, and with some encouragement and technical support from my partner in crime Hermione, I started Country City Girl. (Don’t look for it, it’s long gone and I’m a bit afraid what you might find under that name now.) CCG consisted mainly of tales of my dating misadventures, my crazy animals, and living with one foot in the city and one foot in the canola. It covered my solo trips to Cuba, Australia, and a life changing 5 week trip to Africa.  I wound that one up in 2007 after I got Sport’s referral and his arrival was imminent, mostly because there were a few long time readers (remember those dating misadventures?) who I didn’t really want to have a window into my life anymore.

After Country City Girl came The Munchkin Diaries. That blog chronicled the months leading up to my travel to Ethiopia and Sport’s arrival home. It included some posts about the first three months, which were pretty brutal, but also a lot of ‘firsts’ and some great ESL anecdotes. This one might still be my favourite:

looking at my salad… “Lots pepper.”
“Hmm? Oh, no, that’s not pepper, those are poppyseeds.”
(Look of horror…) “WHAT?”
“Poppyseeds… the salad dressing has poppyseeds in it.”
(Look of horror intensifies…) “Made from PUPPIES???”

The Munchkin Diaries went private after a bit and carried on for about a year, until I shut it down in a fit of panic after discovering that a reader with the password had allowed someone who is borderline certifiably crazy to access it repeatedly. I decided I was done with blogging,  which lasted all of a month or so.

Enter Bolt Upright. Public but anonymous, and with password protection for any pictures of Sport or posts I felt gave too many details about our life. I didn’t give out the password much either, due to my previous experience – which meant feeling a little guilty saying ‘no’ to requests for the password, but not guilty enough to change my mind. This blog has been going for over four years, which I didn’t really realize until I checked the archives just now. 566 posts, 62,800 views, and 3103 comments. Most views ever in a day, 293 – back when I said my piece about adoption and all hell broke loose. Good times.

It’s kind of been dying a slow death over the last six months or so though. I did try to rejuvenate things in November, and managed to post almost every day, but doing that hasn’t motivated me to post again the way it used to. Instead it feels like the last little burst of flames before everything just crumbles into ashes. (Too over-dramatic? Sorry, it’s been that kind of a day.) Anyway, after ten years, I think I’m just …. done. Thanks for joining me here for all this time!

…and also that I am incapable of writing succinct post titles.

Look, I got a pretty pink shiny thing!

According to Cinn I am cool and also have things together (clearly she has never been around for my regular aimless flailing) and she has bestowed on me this lovely award. Now apparently I need to tell you eleven facts about myself, and also answer her questions.

So here goes:

Eleven random facts about me:

1. I do not like elevators at all. This is a problem at my current job, where the elevators are totally dodgy, but the staircase door to our floor is locked for somewhat valid security reasons, forcing me to take the elevator every morning. When it starts randomly jerking and shaking and making godawful noises on the way up, I remind myself that it’s only a three story building, so the fall probably wouldn’t kill me.

2. I have kayaked on three continents. Would really like to make it four, with a sea kayaking tour in Vietnam. Belize wouldn’t be too shabby either.

3. My biggest regret in life is not jumping out of a plane in Namibia. (Yes, there was a parachute involved.) I didn’t do it because it cost something like $200 US, and I was flat broke. In retrospect, hell, that’s what Visa is for.

4. I am a horrible, HORRIBLE singer. I used to babysit for a little boy who was used to being sung to at bedtime, and I had to explain to his mother that she needed to leave tapes or something, because the poor child would never sleep again if he had to listen to me. It’s painful.

5. I am now so completely disenchanted with adoption agencies that when someone asks me which agency they should use, my answer is something along the lines of: none of them, they are all lying assholes. I’m paraphrasing, but not by much.

6. I have absolutely no willpower where chips are concerned. I was briefly a participant in a Biggest Loser contest at my old job, but was forced to conclude that I like chips more than I like being thinner. In fact, just writing about chips made me get up and go get some chips. I’m eating them now. Mmmm, chips.

7. I have never smoked anything, not even a garden variety cigarette. I know, what a square. No dodgy brownies, either.

8. I have only been to one grown-up movie in a theatre in the last five years. Tomorrow I am going to bring that up to a grand tally of TWO! (Still lame, I know.)

9. I  will watch certain movies over and over again if the opportunity arises. For example, when flipping channels,  I am powerless to resist such choices as: the Hunt for Red October, Sneakers, Patriot Games, Witness, Grosse Pointe Blank, and many more. Not movies I’m going to go out and buy, or actively look for in the schedule, but if I stumble across them I’ll watch the whole thing, every time.

10. I also re-read books. Many, many times in some cases. Five books I have re-read the most number of times: Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home, Amy Tan’s the Kitchen God’s Wife, and Neil Ravin’s Mere Mortals. I can’t even count how many times I have read these.

11. I am THE worst procrastinator ever. Which is why it is so shocking that I always do my Christmas shopping so early. Hoping to finish it up tomorrow! On the other hand, the pension buyback paperwork sitting on my desk right now is from 2005. Ahem.

And now to answer Cinn’s questions….

  1. What’s your favourite hobby?  I kind of don’t have hobbies anymore, unless wasting massive amounts of time on the internet counts as a hobby now.
  2. What colour looks best on you? Um… turquoise maybe? Anything but yellow or peach, as a rule. 
  3. What is the most memorable place you have ever visited? This is almost impossible to answer, seriously. Place after place is flashing through my head. I’m going to go with Namibia, which is a little broad, but that’s the best I can do.
  4. Have you ever Hammer danced? I think the 80s should remain a closed book, don’t you? So should the early 90s, for that matter.
  5. What language would you like to become proficient at? Amharic.
  6. What book(s) have left a lasting impression on you? Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. Forget The Help, this is the real thing. I first read it in a fourth year US History class. I re-read it a couple of years ago, and it was just as powerful as I remembered.
  7. What is your favourite holiday family tradition? Our “week of Christmas relaxation.” You can find out what the heck that is here.
  8. If you could suddenly be a rock star, would you be the drummer, the keyboard player, the guitar player or the lead singer? Well, since we’ve already discussed the singing part, I’m going to go with keyboards.
  9. What news publication (if any) do you read? Well, I used to read the Globe&Mail online, until they got all oh we are so special you have to PAY us to read more than two articles, or whatever it is they are doing, as if half the stuff on their site isn’t just recycled from the Canadian Press or the Daily Telegraph or what have you. Not that I’m bitter.
  10. What is something you are really good at? I make a mean doro wat.
  11. How would you like to be remembered after you’ve left this life? As a good mom. Which means I had better do a hell of a lot better than I did today. Sigh.

Now the next part of the award is to nominate someone else …. so without further ado, I’d like to pass this shiny pink sticker thing on to Maple Walnut Mama, whose perspective is invaluable and whose writing really makes me think. And also giggle, sometimes both in the same post.  Right, MWM, you’re up.

photographic evidence

Further to my previous post…. here’s a look at those dishes!



That was actually the lunch platter made the following day with the leftovers. Supper was basically the same, but with more of each dish jammed on there.

And… as Helen alluded to in her comment… I may have omitted one TEENY part of the process in my elaborate explanation of how manageable it is to cook Ethiopian meals.



Yep. The cleanup. It’s a bit of a nightmare. I highly recommend having people on hand who don’t cook Ethiopian food but love to eat it, and railroading them into sorting out the kitchen afterwards. Works for me!

One of the comments I hear the most often about cooking Ethiopian food is something along the lines of, “Doesn’t it take forever?” or “Aren’t you in the kitchen all day?” All day? No. All afternoon? Well maybe…  it depends what you are making – how many dishes, and which ones. Doro wat? Yep, better start by mid-afternoon. (If you don’t have a food processor for the onions, then better start in the early afternoon – or put your kids to work.) But other than that, no single dish is all that time-consuming, and it’s perfectly possible to have a good Ethiopian meal on relatively short notice. The secret is simple: buy the injera, and use your freezer. By rotating the dishes you cook, and making enough to put leftovers in the freezer, you can have a meal with five or six dishes ready pretty easily.

For example, tonight I cooked Ethiopian food for five people. We stopped at a local store in the afternoon and bought the injera. (Do NOT get me started on the cook-your-own-injera thing. Let’s just say I have conceded that battle. If you live somewhere where it’s not easy to buy injera, then good luck to you and your fermentation process, and you have my sympathies.) I got home and started cooking at 5:00, and we were having supper at 6:30. This included the time it took to make my Cheater McShortcut version of nitr qibe, so if I’d had nitr qibe on hand it would have been faster. The platter held six dishes, but only three of them were cooked tonight. I made mesir wat, yekey sir (beets, but with cabbage instead of potatoes, a la Kokeb restaurant), and asa tibs (thanks again to Ramona for the recipe!) Out of the freezer came three more dishes – shiro wat, kik alicha, and gomen. Add to that a quick green salad (from a bag if necessary) with a lemony Italian style dressing, and you’ve got a feast.

Once we were done gorging, I packaged up the leftovers and put a large container of both mesir wat and yekey sir in the freezer. Next time I cook, I’ll pull those out and make three different dishes, being sure to choose at least two that will freeze well (probably doro wat, shiro, and gomen.) Shiro & gomen feature in the rotation very heavily at our house because they are big favourites. As is doro wat of course – in fact I got a few mournful looks and sighs from the Ethiopian children in attendance when they discovered that it was not on the menu. So after the next dinner, into the freezer will go containers of doro wat, shiro wat, and gomen, to be pulled out the next time alongside freshly made… hmm, let’s see… how about dinich wat, mesir wat and kik alicha. See how it goes? Make three dishes, but always have five or six on the table. Now, for a special occasion I will crank it up of course, and add an extra dish or two plus a couple of salads (yemisir azifa and yetimatim selata) and ayib. Then it really does become an all-afternoon affair. But normally, it’s a regular weekend meal, with one meat dish and the rest vegetarian.

Here’s a list of dishes that freeze well, in my experience:
Doro wat
Siga wat  (This recipe is actually for siga & dinich wat. Omit the potatoes if you’re going to freeze it.)
Kik Alicha
Shiro wat
Mesir Wat
Key Sir (beets) – if you make the variation with cabbage instead of potatoes

In general, wats freeze well unless they contain potatoes, which just get too mushy. Tibs does not freeze well, because the peppers get mushy. You could however just freeze the meat and add fresh peppers when you reheat… but tibs (whether doro, siga, or asa – ie chicken, beef, or fish) is fast to make so I just always include it on the ‘make tonight’ portion of the menu.

Oh yes, and the Cheater McShortcut version of nitr qibe? Buy ghee, which is already clarified, so you can skip that whole step. Melt it in a pot, simmer with the spices for a while, then strain with cheesecloth, cool and use – or pour back into the ghee jar and refrigerate for next time, if there’s any left!

Happy cooking!

fatal flaw

So, with all that elation about and focus on the DESK???

I totally jinxed myself. I have the desk, oh yes I do, and it’s lovely.

However, my computer doesn’t work. And the new one should arrive…. sometime in December, apparently. Ah well, you can’t have it all I guess.

almost better than the desk…

… is the fact that I just reset my alarm clock from 5:45 to 6:30. I am so not a morning person. Well, I suppose I am a morning person, just not an EARLY morning person. 6:30 is still kind of early if you ask me, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 5:45. Now I just have to manage to remember to catch a different bus in my early morning haze, and I’ll be all set.

… is the overwhelming temptation to buy somewhat hilarious pop culture objects.


Like this.


I didn’t buy it, but I was awfully tempted. I *did* buy another totally useless but irresistible object, but I can’t post a picture because (spoiler alert!) someone is getting it for Christmas. Be afraid!




I start a new job on Monday. I don’t think this has really sunk in yet, partly because I am completely fixated on the fact that I am going to have my own desk. MY OWN DESK. Where I can leave a pen or a box of kleenex and it will still be there the next day. Where I’m allowed to put a picture of my kid, who most days is the only reason I actually drag myself to the office in the first place. Where I don’t have to restock the pens and staples and paper every time, because someone else used them up or borrowed them and didn’t bring them back. I’m telling you, the mind boggles. Apparently this desk will also feature a brand new computer and even a telephone, but I’m so hung up on the actual DESK part that I haven’t even had time to squee over those other features.

Oh the job? Yeah, it also has some decent perks, like more money and less dealing with nutbars. Also, I’m not sure if I mentioned this part, but I get A FREAKING DESK.


dimly, yes.

Said to me today, in complete seriousness, by my twentysomething co-worker: “I mean, do you remember being in your thirties?”

I think I may have set a new standard for the WTF look at that one.


While hunting through my hard drive for a specific photo this week, I came across a bunch of pictures from 2005. Which is a little odd, since I didn’t own this computer in 2005, but whatever.  I flipped through them quickly, then went back and looked again. And then I got a little bit sad.

I miss this dog. What an absolute lovable fool he was.


Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.


Milo was a cruelty seizure by the Humane Society in 2003, having been starved almost to death. He weighed 32 pounds when they got him to a vet, 55 pounds when I brought him home (having been sucked in by his sad story, his pathetic kennel demeanor, and his absolute goofy joy when I produced a leash to take him outside), and 70 pounds when he was back to good condition. He absolutely adored living in the country, although the day he ate the baby squirrels will live in infamy.


What do you mean, I’m too muddy to come inside?

He had three great years with me but died of liver failure at age six, most likely brought on by the permanent organ damage from the long-term starvation in his early years. He died not long before I adopted Sport, and it’s kind of sad to me that those two never knew each other. Milo would have loved having a boy.


Milo the Big Red Dog

Miss you, goofus.