Kitchen renos — check!

Well, the latest phase of kitchen renovations at Chez Bos is now complete. Gone is the tired, old Formica countertop, adios to the old sinks and faucet, good riddance to the ugly back-splash (although the little mural above the cooktop had a certain quirky charm).

And HELLO! to our new quartz counter, bright new back-splash, and new sinks and faucet.

Big thanks to the guys and gals at FloForm Countertops who supplied and installed everything. Superior products, flawless installation, and absolutely great people. They showed up as scheduled, on time, and in great spirits; it was obvious everyone loves what they do. FloForm…highly recommended!

Easy for you to say

(A recent Facebook post about mispronounced words that are pet peeves for some people garnered some interest. And the cited words stuck in my head…until I purged them here!)
Minnesota_Vikings_2013My Minnesota Vikings have been a pleasant surprise, going in to this weekend with a solid 8-3 record – good enough to sit in first place in the NFL’s North Division ahead of the hated Bears and Packers. However, this past Sunday morning the Vikes showed dark shades of their former sorry selves in a 38-7 shellacking administered by the Seattle Seahawks.

While watching, my angst grew and my command of the English language lessened. It was the weirdest thing! Not sure what was more unsettling though: how Seattle was having their way all day with my boys in purple, or my inability to speak properly. I mean really, I was getting fustrated!

The game was close for the first quarter and I was pretty comfterble with it all, but things went completely nucular in the second. Proberly had something to do with three straight Viking punts, followed by an 154125278-630x430interception. Shiver me timbers, it was 21-zip at half time! Irregardless, I thought, the Vikes will come back in the third quarter because for all intensive purposes they’re great athlaletes who’ll be chomping at the bit. Uh huh. They’ll watch some fillum to see their mistakes, and then they’ll do their upmost in the second half. Give a hunerd-and-ten precent and all that, excetera, excetera.

Well, things didn’t work out so well. Not four minutes into Quarter Three, Seattle scored another touchdown. 28-0 and the rout was on in earnest (or is that ernst?). Supposably, the effort was going to be better in the second half, but I didn’t think you could find one pacific example of someone trying harder. I’ll axe you direct right now: did you see one? No, didn’t think so.

By this time, I’m yelling at the TV trying to get my Vikings to wake up, but the words were all jumbled and strange-sounding like I’d fallen off the FnYtDDyNqA-14turnip truck, hitting my head on the ashphalt. I’m off the couch yelling incoherently, while the Bos Lady – feeling mischievious, proberly – was trying to get my goat-cheese, cooing: “There, there, dear. It’s just a game.” But I didn’t take the bait; just ignored her, thinking if she wanted to float that perticular boat, well that was her perogative.

But oh dear, I was getting a lulu of a headache, what with Seattle running up the score and me yelling things that weren’t making any sense. Head pounding so bad, it wasn’t even English anymore. What a scene: me standing there, hands clamped tightly on my ears, froth drooling out of my mouth, screaming: “Olliebollen! Olliebollen! Olliebollen!” like some pathetic old Payten Manning.

RXThankfully, the Bos Lady had a heart. She soon came to my rescue with a cup of expresso and two Advils or some undisclosed perscription drug. Might even have been a couple of those Happy Pills she takes once in a while. Midol or MiDoc or something.

Before long, my headache was a thing of the past. But that expresso – man, that jacked me up!! And for some reason, I was fighting an urge to try on the high heels the Bos Lady was wearing that morning. She’s got miniture feet though, so the urge didn’t last. No sense trying the impossible, I thought.

And, mercifully, the shellacking on the Tube came to an end, as well. Best the Vikings put an asteriks behind that 38-7 rout and just be done with it. But they better show up next game or some of them will be calling their realators. Just sayin’.

ref and post

 

 

 

BosKrokettenWerks

BosKrokettenWerks. Artie Johnson on the left.
BosKrokettenWerks. Artie Johnson on the left.

Chez Bos has undergone its annual morphing into a food factory. Specifically, the BosKrokettenWerks. Perhaps you might be wondering: “What in the world are ‘kroketten’?” Fair question, but perhaps you might be familiar with the English (née French) word for them: croquettes, which Wikipedia describes as: “a small bread-crumbed fried food roll containing…mashed potatoes and/or ground meat.”

Since the Bos Lady and I are offspring of good and stubborn “Hollandse” stock, we have always called these tasty treats by their Dutch name, rather than the English-French version. Our recipe comes directly from my dad and mom – who respectfully called it The Recipe – so calling them anything but kroketten might have them wagging their index fingers at us! (Now there’s a theological discussion for us: Do people in heaven actually see and pay any attention to what’s happening down here? Ah, another day’s conversation!)

The shape of kroketten is oblong or cylindrical, and is not to be confused with the small, round versions of these edibles, which are called in Dutch: bitterballen. The Bos Lady and I have never made bitterballen because the old folks’ recipe calls for cylinder shapes, not round. Besides, bitterballen doesn’t sound all that appetizing. No, really. Think about it.

Canadians of Dutch descent enjoy kroketten on occasion throughout the year, but traditionally – at least in our upbringing – they are made and enjoyed in greater quantities before and during the Christmas season. It may be a case of saving and savouring special foods for special times, but I have a hunch it’s due to two main reasons: it’s a lot of work; and it requires a lot of meat. Meat ain’t cheap, and the Dutch ain’t not cheap, so I rest my case.

Every year, the BosKrokketenWerks gears up for another season of production with the Bos Lady frantically looking for The Recipe a few days before the assembly lines creak awake. Understand that The Recipe is handwritten on one of them cardboard recipe cards from days of yore. Legend has it The Recipe card was bestowed on the Bos Lady and me by my parents as the most coveted of all wedding gifts, but verification of the legend has proved elusive over the years. What is true is that the ages have left their indelible mark on the The Recipe card with faded print, murky stains, and droopy dog ears of time itself.

Please understand as well that the Bos Lady has several recipe card containers, each of which has several hiding places in our kitchen. So finding The Recipe card is never a simple, efficient task; no, not ever. As she looked for it, I caught wind of aJackson rising commotion arising from the kitchen: cupboard and cabinet doors opening
and closing, strange mutterings growing up into loud potty mouth, and kitchen drawers slamming shut – all climaxing with a shouted question to the innocent dog (who really should have slinked out of the kitchen long ago if it had half a pea-brain to know when to hightail it): “WHERE IN BLAZES IS THE RECIPE???”

Now please also understand that the Bos Lady owns an iPad and an iPhone, and is well aware that it would be a grand idea to photograph all of her recipe cards, so she would know where they all are at any given moment. She also knows that these cards can scanned, too, and saved and filed for easy retrieval as pdf documents.

But alas, the Bos Lady is like most us: a full-blown creature of habit. So if the recipe cards were good enough 30 years ago when we shared “I do’s”, well dagnabbit, they’re good enough for now. That and the fact she habitually uses her iPhone rather than the iPad means that she’d be looking at photographed or scanned recipes on the small phone screen, which would lead to more stress and more frustration because it would be difficult to see and the phone doesn’t stay propped up, which would lead to more grey hairs underneath the colouring of the Bos Lady’s head, which would lead to: “I JUST CAN’T EVER GET USED TO THESE ROTTEN PROGRESSIVE LENSES! STUPID GLASSES!!!”

And then the glasses would be stomped underfoot and a few bowls shattered on the ceramic tiled floor and the dog would get kicked where he likes to lick, and Ron would be diving behind the couch.

So really, the recipe cards in their hide-and-go-seek boxes are better. Really better.

(Lest you are genuinely concerned here for the mental well-being of the Bos Lady, please understand I may have exaggerated things a wee smidgeon. The Bos Lady is a fine, well-balanced citizen. And no Jackson was hurt in the nether region nor any other.)

To cut to the chase, though, The Recipe was at last found, and kroketten planning could begin in earnest.

First on the agenda: get the meat. Usually this is my job, but this year the Bos Lady called on a lady friend to make a run to Costco for supplies. Well, the Bos Lady came home with a roast about the size of Prince Edward Island, and when I asked (cautiously) about the price, she patted me gently on the head and sweetly replied: “Don’t you fret, honey, I stopped at the Christian Credit Union for a loan on the way to Costco, and John and his staff were so very helpful.” I simply nodded, truly thankful for John and the fact my lovely wife chose not to kick me in the nether region.

With the meat at home, the Bos Lady began the arduous chore of cutting the roast

Rabbit droppings?
Rabbit droppings?

into little cubes for pressure cooking. Once cooked in about three-thousand batches, son-in-law Jason was given the task of grinding all of that meat. If you check out the photo on the right here, you can see that freshly ground cooked meat shares some characteristics with rabbit poop.

Kristen
Kristen

After the grinding, the meat is mixed with beef broth, milk, eggs, plus a host

of secret, ancient Dutch spices (okay, I made that last part up), and then mixed together over heat to form a thick, malleable goop. Daughter Kristen was the lucky chosen one for this fun job…although it was she who mumbled under her breath halfway through the proceedings: “I am never making kroketten at home!”

Kroketten goop or baby poop?

The batches, when done and set aside to cool, look very much like….well, you tell me. Take a peek at the photo here at the left. Yes, I know. Looks like diarrhea, say the guys. Looks like baby poop, say the gals. Same consistency, too, say I.

Once the batches have sufficiently cooled, BosKrokettenWerks kicked into full production mode with the making of the beef cylinders – all hand-formed mind you, no fancy-schmancy dies or templates dare taint The Recipe with any modern world influence. Then, with an efficient assembly line process the beef cylinders are dipped in egg, dipped in bread crumbs, and then dipped in egg and crumbs a second time.

At the time of this writing, it is not known how many kroketten BosKrokettenWerks will make. Leon’s has just delivered another truckload of freezers and given the size of the original roast, there would be enough to feed all of Newfoundland if we so chose, even if most ex-pats have returned home in recent days from Fort McMurray.

Yum. Kroketten from BosKrokettenWerks are the very best! If you wish to have the recipe, just drop the Bos Lady a line. Ahem, if you dare…

Oh-oh, she’s yelling again and she’s coming closer! LET’S RUN FOR OUR LIVES, JACKSON! RUN, JACKSON, RUN!!!

Under the G: Seven…Mr. Trudeau Goes to Japan

g7 photoSHIMA, Japan, May 26, 2016 – Early discussions at this week’s G7 Summit took at an unexpected turn today, precipitating astonishment around the table. In his first international summit in which skis were not part of his entourage, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved that Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin be reinstated to the group, thus returning it to its former identity as the Group of 8. Mr. Putin was suspended from the summit group in 2015 following Russia’s predatory acts on the global scene in 2014-15.

“It is a matter of principle,” began Mr. Trudeau, “that Mr. Putin deserves to be at this table. We, as world leaders, have simply misunderstood Russia’s recent actions in the Ukraine.” While stunned silence fell on the summit participants, Mr. Trudeau continued: “More importantly, Mr. Putin needs our love and support — inclusion, understanding, and dialogue are vital to his well-being.”

Despite the accepted G7 Summit rule that no pictures are taken outside of formal photo opportunities, photographers instantly began shooting. Mr. Trudeau’s brazen comments and his natural photogenic looks spawned commotion among the assembled press, followed by outrage from the G7 leaders. Following is a quote by quote description of the raucous verbal exchange that followed, which indeed strayed from the usual calm and cautious diplomatic language:

“Tabernacle, vous êtes fou?” – Francois Hollande, President of France

“Not at all, Monsieur Hollande. This is simply the sunny, Canadian way!” – Trudeau

“Insense!” – Hollande

“Mr. Trudeau, that would be unwise and let me be clear: the American people would never support that.” – US President Obama

“Mr. Obama, my father would have liked you. But I am ready to say to you now, it’s time America and the world put away their guns, and surround Mr. Putin with sunny rays of support and happy, happy thoughts.” – Trudeau

“Genug, Mr. Trudeau! Stop it right there! I have never heard such pablum in my 61 years on this good earth. It is akin to stating the Volkswagen is not at all for the volks!” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

“Bollocks, let’s not get our knickers in a twist, everyone. Oops! Pardon my language, Chancellor Merkel. Justin’s just being cheeky or, well — Bob’s your uncle, mate — what are you really saying?” – UK Prime Minister David Cameron

“I’m saying let’s all be friends! I mean, can’t we all just get along?” – Trudeau

“Make no mistake, that’s not possible. The American people would never support that.” – Obama

“Let’s table this motion for the time being — we must let cooler heads prevail in this room, Mr. Chairman. I suggest we recess and perhaps enjoy a glass of red wine together. Perhaps we can converse on lighter matters.” – Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy

“Solid idea, Matt! Hey, perhaps we can all chat about the Sussex polo event I’m planning that I’d love for everyone here to attend. Vlad’s already RRSP’ed, and China’s Xi Jinping is trying to clear his schedule.” – Trudeau

“Here’s the deal: The American people do not support polo. Their priority is football. So if you host some four-down football, I’m in.” – Obama

“(snort) I just call him ‘Big Jim’! He loves it, I tell ya!” – Trudeau

With those final words of the morning, and much indecipherable mutterings as they exited the chambers, the morning proceedings recessed for a time.
 

 

 

Life and death and grief

Angel_of_Grief_by_earlierbirdscenicI cried after reading an essay today, written by a lady I had never heard of. Her name is Sheryl Sandberg and she is now a widow. Suddenly. She lost her husband at his tender age of 47.

Ms. Sandberg has penned an essay about grief that is beyond moving. It hurts to read.

For me, it spawned an inner whirlwind of past grief and past losses and present voids in my life. A storm of emotions that can only be stilled with written words here. So this is going to get personal. I do not apologize for spilling my heart and soul here, but I understand if you choose to leave now.

My dad died at 55 when I was 26; I have lived longer without him than with him. My mom passed away suddenly at 68. A brother and sister were lost at 49 and 52, I think, although I am not sure, and I am not proud of not remembering. Lou and Anita withered away in pain and suffering as the Scourge of our Age – Cancer – knocked incessantly and harshly at their life’s door until it needed to knock no more. I have already lived longer than they.

So I have experienced grief time and again. The experts say that grieving is necessary, and for those grappling with it in the dark of nights and in the black places of their hearts, grief is a process. You are familiar with Kubler-Ross’ five-stage model, as am I: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Cold, clinical words. But in reality a lonely, aching walk through a long gauntlet of dank hollowness.

For a Christian on such an arduous journey, the treacherous walk can be handicapped before it ever begins. Because fellow Christians, with pure intent and loving goodwill, try to help the griever with comments like: “Well, he’s in a better place now.” or “You will see her again someday.” That these are absolute Christian beliefs and values, I have no doubt. But when these well-meant consolations were said to me in the black wanderings immediately after the death of my dad or mom or brother or sister, I understood them only as platitudes while I was on some stroll through a fleeting page of my life. Like the grieving process wasn’t normal for a Christian.

I know full well the well-meant gospel offer. I know in my heart and soul the covenant promises. But in those immediate after-days of death and despair, I didn’t care. They produced only anger, a bitter rage of insolent accusations – I was mad at God. Spitting mad. In those demon-filled days, God’s love toward me – one of His children, for heaven’s sake! – was a vile traitor in sheep’s clothing. “You will see her again someday” meant nothing because I want to see her TODAY! How dare he take her away?

Grief is so hard and loss so overwhelming that I couldn’t see God’s love, let alone comprehend and treasure it, at that time. “He’s in a better place now” was nothing but a spew of empty words. Vanity. All they were was vanity.

And yet, grief is a biblical concept. Jesus wept. And before He wept, he saw all of the family and friends of Lazarus weeping, and “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled”. Jesus, who knew intimately the promises of God, wept. He wept, and God didn’t step in to whisper “There-there son, you will see Lazarus again someday”.

A Christian wrestles with grief, but he or she also wrestles with God during the squally days of loss. If you love me, God, why this bitter quaff of darkness? Why drown me in this wave of death?

I would rather Christians comfort their brothers and sisters in these stormy days not with platitudes to remember this is all part of God’s plan – I know it is but I hate the plan right now! – but with an honest and caring question: How are you today? As Ms. Sandberg writes, “…a simple ‘How are you?’—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with ‘How are you today?’ When I am asked ‘How are you?’ I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear ‘How are you today?’ I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.”

Getting through each day – when the hurt and rage and hollowness staccato on my psyche like so many lightning stabs and thunder cracks – is a mountain to climb, every day. But it too is biblical; think of many of the psalms. Think, for instance, of Psalm 31: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and by body also.”

Yes, in my days of distress do not tell me about better days and happy family reunions that will happen someday. I know about them and I believe them. But those thoughts will fill my soul and warm my heart when the anguish abates and the mourning has passed, on crystal clear days when I can see the horizon with dry eyes and clear mind; when I can see heaven and earth meet on that horizon, and know that tears and sorrow and grief will be forever gone on that new cloudless morning.

But in those first too-many days after I have lost my loved one, I am cannot see clearly yet. So please, only ask me sincerely: “How are you today?”

(Ms. Sandberg’s powerful essay can be read here.)

Ottawa observations

dressMy friend, Master Bill (now a resident in Fredericton) boasts Ottawa as his home town. For the Bos Lady and I, the nation’s capitol was a most fair city to visit, even without a guide such as Master Bill to show us around.

The highlight of our stay — sure to be that of every Canadian — was Parliament Hill. We toured the common areas of the Parliament Building, although we would have loved to see more. But, alas, the guided tour tickets were gone in a flash yesterday morning. However, we did get to ride up to the (near) top of the Peace Tower for a look at Ottawa from the observation level. And we did narrowly escape the Invasion of the Mat Keepers!

The locks of the Rideau Canal were a nifty sight for prairie folks such as us. We mused about the experiences of our friends, David and Loretta, who skated with their family on the canal in a winter adventure. That would be something!

A stroll through the Fairmont Laurier Hotel was pretty cool, too. We’d heard that the most expensive room (suite?) in this historic hotel rented for two dollars a night when it opened in the early part of last century; today, one would shell out $2000 for the same room.

And we noticed one peculiarity about Ottawa. So many women wear dresses. Not skirts or summer dresses, but formal dresses. Women in dresses are everywhere in Ottawa. This is a foreign sight to us. We don’t see this in River City at the best of times; even in church, dresses in Edmonton are the exception. But in Ottawa, we saw them everywhere, not just around downtown or Parliament Hill. Very nice!

On Saturday, we will have another day to invest in Ottawa. One place we will see is the Diefenbunker — Canada’s 1960’s safe haven for the government from nuclear attack. Had Master Bill still resided in Ottawa, he could have showed us a lot in one day. Mais, c’est the vie!