Oh, the weather outside…

I have a crazybusy week ahead, so today is a writing day. That is good, actually. I’m in a calm mood, the house is silent, it’s overcast outside, Maggie has assumed the position (digging her claws in on my lap) and I have the first pot of tea going. It’s perfect. I couldn’t write yesterday because I helped the Rotary Club in Toronto with their Telethon. Rogers produces it, and I made like Jerry Lewis for a couple of hours. Yes, it’s as corny as it sounds, but it was fun and it raises a lot of money. They put you at a table of three – I was the middle person, the Rogers person. They told me ahead of time that John Tory would be sitting to my right. I replied “of course he will be.” He’s a sports freak, so could pimp all the sports things we were pushing without reading the little description. This was helpful, as the only items I had any clue about were 1) winter checkups for your car and 2) gift certificates from the LCBO.

As usual, I just popped up a couple of sites before I settled down to write. A little news, because you never know what can happen on a Saturday night. I made the mistake of clicking on Longform.org by accident (I swear) and wouldn’t you know it, they have a William Langeweische http://longform.org/writers/william-langewiesche on. Dammit. I will never get out of there. I loooooooooove him. If you, on the other hand, do not have to write today, and you have a cat on your lap and a pot of tea and a silent house, I strongly suggest you go read his stuff.

Off to read. I mean write.

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A room with a mew

I got to stay overnight at Roz’s house on Tuesday night. I do my show in Toronto until 10pm and I had to be downtown at 7:30 am Wednesday to do a round table at Talk1010, which is fun. I then had a Michelin winter school scheduled for 9am at the Exhibition grounds. No way would I be able to get back downtown so early, so I told Roz to expect an overnight guest.

Now, I get to stay in some pretty swanky places. But get this: I walked in the door at 10:30 at night, got handed a glass of wine and mug of homemade squash soup. Soooo yummy..*recipe at bottom. SHE JUST INVENTS THINGS LIKE THIS. I made my way upstairs to my room, and found a perfectly made bed with flannel sheets and a down duvet, a lamp throwing a homey feel about the place. There were slippers by the bed and a bathrobe. There were fuzzy socks. There were magazines and books and a water bottle. There were fresh towels and face wash. Actually, there were 3 kinds of face wash: she knows I have to get off the makeup they trowel on to give me that natural look. I put in for a 6:30 wakeup call, Jimbo curled up with me just like my cats at home, and I slept like a rock.

The Chateau Scarborough: highly recommended.

Oh, and this is my press car this week.
F350
I call it the BTITW. The biggest truck in the world. It takes up half my driveway, and is beyond amazing. Did I mention it takes up half my driveway? I told Pammy there was no way I was taking that downtown Toronto on a Wednesday morning to try to shoehorn into a lot. I left it at home, taking up half the driveway, and said a silent ‘thank you’ to the folks at Canadian Tire who helped me make a video last week of getting my winter tires on the Elantra. Yes, I put my own winter tires on. Well, I put on one, then we turned off the camera and the mechanic put on the other three. Good timing: priceless.

*Roasted butternut squash soup

1 medium butternut squash, ~ 2 & 1/2 lbs, peeled, seeded & cut into 2″ chunks
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
S&P

Combine above and roast for ~ 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool for about 20 minutes.

1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. garam masala (1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, cumin, black pepper) Salt, about 1 tsp.
3 bay leaves
7 cups stock

In a large soup pot, sauté diced onion, celery, carrots and minced garlic in olive oil. When veggies are soft (about 3-4 minutes) add 1 tsp. garam masala and mix into onion mixture. Toast spices in onion for 2 minutes. Add roasted squash, 7 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, salt and 3 bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and use an immersion blender until smooth.

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We never have anything good to eat

Some people believe they have to sail the Seven Seas (or whatever) to look for treasure. Find your inner pirate and go plunder. I don’t have to do that; I only have to look waaaay to the back of my fridge. Why does ‘fridge’ have a ‘d’ in it, anyway? I also thought of the Friendly Giant when I just wrote ‘waaaaay’. Oh, Rusty.

Anyway. If I wonder why groceries never, ever fit in my fridge, it’s because of all the crap in there that gets forgotten. Little yogurts hunkered down behind ketchup bottles that are almost empty; a thousand salad dressings with an inch or two of goo in them, or long expired. I do a regular purge, but it never fails: the kids just keep adding crap. I’ve come home from shopping on a Friday to find the fridge full of beer. Every available inch full of beer. I carefully remove all the beer, yell at Ari, and then put the real food away. Don’t even get me started on the freezer side. There are chicken strips in there from 2009. I have to turn the cheese drawer like some kind of filing system, following the first in, first out rule. Otherwise, they grab whatever is on top and the old things sink to the bottom and get green.

Pammy will put the tiniest bits of things into tiny tupperware containers or tiny ziplock baggies. She is a tiny girl; she makes her tiny lunches that the boys laugh at. The problem? Something most people would consider not worth keeping Pammy sees as an entree. One and a half crackers? Three grapes? Two teaspoons of hummus? Half a pickle? Yup. I’m never gonna fault a kid for not wasting, but these little bits and shits end up falling between shelves or lurking behind bottles of O.J. Until I find them 2 months later. Oh, and I’m the only one who has the recipe for ice cubes, apparently.

Today I was rummaging around, trying to make room. I found three jars of pickles, and figured I’d collate them. This is what I found:
pickle

I know. You’re all waiting for Roz to make Bob a new hat.

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Maggie looked outside and saw the snow

maggie winter

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The Old House at Home

Cool read from The New Yorker from 1940, The Old House at Home. The place still exists, though now of course it’s been tarted up with a website and Tripadvisor and Yelp. Oh, well, still love the piece.

I read a description of one of the proprietors and thought he sounded just like me: “Old John was quirky. He was normally affable but was subject to spells of unaccountable surliness…” Then I read that “he liked to fit a whole onion into the hollowed-out heel of a loaf of French bread and eat it as if it were an apple,” and thought he sounded like my dad.

My favourite line, however, is from Ol’ John’s son, when trying to close up shop for the night :“Now, see here, gents! I’m under no obligoddamnation to stand here all night while you baby them drinks.”

My new goal in life is to work obilgoddamnation into as many sentences as I possibly can.

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Wanna see the Grand Canyon?

grand canyon
There. Done.

Nah, I’ll put in some more. I had to do standups all along the route, which means 60-90 second make-it-up-on-the-fly pieces. My videographer, Yohan, was a hoot. We’re setting up here, and he keeps saying back up, back up, and I keep taking these baby steps and he finally says he’s just kidding. Love guys who kid. Sigh.
grand canyon yohan 2

Later on, we were trying to shoot and it was really, really windy. The mic has this little fuzzy cover on it (I call it a mic condom; of course I do) and it kept coming off. You don’t want that to happen, because then *someone* has to chase after it. I prefer not to chase little fuzzy things across highways.
me and yohan miking up 2

We found this cool place that makes metal sculptures. Thousands of them. Huge. And tiny. This was my favourite.
horse metal

Sometimes you think famous places are going to be dorky, like Key West and Dawson City. Which I thought would be dorky until I got there AND LOVED THEM ENOUGH TO MAKE ME SHOUTY. Winslow, Arizona was another one I didn’t realize I would love. I wrote about it in the driving.ca link yesterday, so I’ll just put up some pics. Each of those tiles had a story behind it. Wish I could have known them all.

winslow truck
Winslow 2
tile horse
deadeye
piioneer tile
life

In Ash Forks, which is pretty much abandoned, I was bopping around taking pics of this abandoned No-Tell Motel (that’s not what the sign said, but puleeze) when a woman yelled at me to stop trespassing. She was across the street walking her little dog. She looked mean. So did the woman. Before I smiled and ran (these folks are packin’), I got this pic: two garages, because in the olden days you parked in here then went right into your shabby little hotel room to do your bidness. And nobody would see your car parked out front.
motel notell

You know what else you see all over the place? Hollowed out places like this gas station with old cars out front. As if the driver just hopped out to get some cigarettes or something and will be right back. Nobody came right back. Except the lady with the dog who didn’t want me trespassing.
gas station pickup

Edit: Alain Morin just sent me this pic and it cracked me up. It’s when we were in Oatman, AZ.
me and donkeys

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Route 66

Okay, I officially joined up halfway at Albuquerque, but still. I did the best half. And if you don’t think you need spell-check for Albuquerque, trust me, you do. My feature is here.

There are some great pics in that gallery, but that also means there are some that didn’t make it. If you’ve watched Breaking Bad, you are going to loooove this pic. We just found it sitting there in the middle of nowhere, just like in the show. I was convinced some questionable activities were afoot, but nobody wanted to go knock on the door, and I was worried if I did they’d just drive off without me.
N meth lab
In Kingman, Arizona there is a motel – El Travatore – that features every room done up in a different famous person. There is the Elvis Room, the Marilyn Munroe Room, the Audrey Hepburn Room, the Humphrey Bogart Room, The Michael Jackson Room (not so much arguing over who got that one) and a bunch of others. It’s a quirky place and a lot of fun. Rooms were whoever got there first, so I stuck my right foot into that pedal so I could get this:
N Paul Newman
That is Newman in Hud, which is the movie version of Larry McMurty’s Horseman Pass By, which is one of my favourites, and oh my, just look at Paul Newman. Sometimes it’s okay to speed.

Speaking of McMurtry, we found this in Williams, Arizona. I have a pic of me in front of it grinning like an idiot, but the sign speaks for itself.
N Lonesome Dove

This was the goal all along, the Santa Monica Pier. It wasn’t really that dark, but I had to hide the sun behind a tree to get a picture.
N Santa Monica

And in case it was all work and no play (cuz of course that’s what you’re thinking, right?) this shot made the rounds to much laughter. Yes, I was the oldest broad on the trek. As usual.
N cougar 2

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I got the best hat in the world

Got in last night from the Route 66 gig with Nissan. I drove it from Albuquerque to the Santa Monica Pier, meaning I missed Chicago and Oklahoma and Texas. While it would have been lovely to be *official*, I did get to see the Grand Canyon.

And, buy a hat.me arizona 65

I have helpfully tipped my head in this pic so you can see my hat. I was also near the edge of the Grand Canyon here, so I get points for bravery.

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I coulda gone to dinner with a cowboy

Or so said a colleague who is already on the trip I’m heading out to join in… looks at time…3 hours. My appreciation of all things cowboy is an industry joke (and also a shared one with some of my colleagues of the girly persuasion), so everybody is helpfully on the lookout for me. I’ll be Albuquerque (thank you, Spellcheck) tonight, but apparently if I’d arrived last night, I coulda driven off into the back forty with this guy:
cowboy

I appreciate this, though this is not the kind of cowboy we womenfolk share pictures of.

Maggie is already glaring at me. I told her I’d take her with me, but that would mean sacrificing a pair of boots. And we can’t have that.

Be nice to each other. Maybe I’ll give Roz the keys to the kingdom next time I’m away and she can post Cats in Hats until her head explodes.

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Mushrooms and tophats

Easter island boogie

My sister Gilly and her family closed up the cottage last week. It was raining and miserable which is a pain in one way but makes it easier to say goodbye for another year. My niece Kat sent me this pic, which cracked me up. Roz’s husband Daryl made this a few years ago (it’s huge) and Kat flips me a note with “Easter Island head has a booger”. She then explains it’s a mushroom. There was also a new huge pile of bear poop on the path to the lake. Oh, the things that Easter Island head must see when we’re not there.

Halloween is over and we had zero kids. Zero. We never get many anymore, but I was smacking Ari’s hand away from the bowl of chocolate bars for two hours. Needn’t of bothered. Then again, I also needn’t have bothered taking *several* little chocolate bars up to bed with me, either. “Several” is one of those words that can mean many things. Including tummyache. I’m running out of things on Netflix so I’m finishing up Hell on Wheels. I like it, mostly, but I’m tiring of the main dude looking into the camera in a very tortured way, to show how torn and complicated and meaningful everything is. Seems to me that back then, someone pissed you off, that’s a killin’. Evidence was comprised of “I didn’t see nuthin’.” Not so complicated.

Little Pea is here at my elbow, yelling at me that she just doesn’t understand this time change nonsense. I tell her to cool out, we’ll get the clocks all changed a week before the next time change. I also tell her that life could be worse, she could still be living with her Aunt Roz who sent me her latest millinery concoction for Poor Bob.

bob top hat
Edit: I’m on the phone with Roz, and when I made a snarky comment about the top hat, she responded, “oh come on, tell me it’s not great considering I made it from a toilet roll, a piece of cardboard and a sharpie.” Who says Sommerfelds need hobbies.

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