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Notes from Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a really wonderful Thanksgiving this weekend.  My grandparents came down from Kingston, my brother and sister-in-law drove up from Ithaca, and we all met in Niagara at my parent’s house.  The weekend was sunny and we all pitched in to bring together a wonderful meal.

We had our feast on Saturday so that my brother and his wife could drive home on Sunday as they didn’t get Monday off.  That was actually a really great plan because that meant that all the fuss was over and we still had two days off to enjoy and relax!  Dinner included four guests – adopted family – for a grand total of twelve people.  What fun.  There was much eating, drinking and merry making.  This is what sharing food is all about.

I had planned to bake a pumpkin pie and roasted a lovely little organic pie pumpkin in anticipation.  However my mother had ordered a pie from a local farm, and one of our guests brought two, so my pumpkin got put in the fridge and promptly forgotten.  I must remember to call or email tomorrow and have them put it back in the freezer before it spoils.  I have a nice recipe for squash or pumpkin custard and was really looking forward to making some up for lunches this week.

As for that, I am generally feeling like a locavore failure these days.  Sure I get all my house food locally, but I have been quite remiss about cooking and bringing food with me to work.  I did manage last week, and was quite proud of myself.  But arriving late last night and then working until 2am to prepare a lecture for this morning, I had no time for food prep and ended up buying lunch at the cafeteria.  Blech.

While in Niagara I did find a few pears and brought them back in hopes that I can get them into jars before they spoil on me too.  This time I am going to try to make pear jam, rather than can them. These ones are seconds and too beat up to can, but very tasty and should make excellent jam.  Provided I can get them cooked up in the next 24 hours or so.  Hmmm…. hopefully tomorrow evening.

I am really enjoying my jobs but hating how much commuting I am doing.  While I am devouring books on tape, my milage ticking away, I feel the pounds attaching themselves to my hips.  Most mornings I eat my breakfast behind the wheel.  No mean feat, I should add, considering it’s a bowl of nuts, oats, seeds, fruit and yogurt.  But what a horrible way to start the day – gulping down your breakfast at stop signs, or while driving with your knee on straight stretches of the road.  The 2 hour return commute is really starting to drag.  Next week I am going to have to do a 2-hour return trip just to drop off a set of exams!  I am desperately trying to find an alternative solution.  Fridays through Mondays are supposed to be my time at home writing, or in Waterloo collecting data.  Not chauffeuring exam papers around.  I am becoming very protective of these precious days at home.

I love my new home and living arrangement, but I am not going to be able to keep this commute up beyond this academic year.   I don’t know how people stay sane doing it daily.  Not to mention the impact my health (lack of exercise)  and the environment.  If it was just the two days a week it was supposed to be, it wouldn’t be that bad.  But so far two days seems to almost always bleed into three or four, and that’s simply way too much driving.  Realistically, however, I’m just going to have to suck it up until I finish this damned degree.  Hopefully by this time next year I will have a full-time job and can find a place to live close enough by that I don’t have to commute, or at least not as far.

I also feel terrible about leaving the animals for 10-12 hours at a time.  That is simply not fair to them.  As I type, I can hear Kess tossing toys around in my bedroom – where the dogs are confined so they don’t bother my roommate who went to bed early.  She is full of beans after spending 12 solid hours in a crate, and is about to be put back in it.  Fortunately I have the morning off tomorrow and will be taking them to run in the conservation area, and yesterday she spent the day at a friend’s farm running in the fields and working sheep.  So the dogs do have some good days, but not enough of them of late.

Working the sheep is going well, when I am able to get to sheep to work.  Yesterday I met two friends who also have dogs to train and we worked together.  It was a lot of fun and they helped me make some solid progress with each of my dogs.  Because of my work schedule I am not able to attend the last two trials of the year (this coming weekend, and the next, both up in Kingston area), which is really too bad.  I had scheduled a lesson with a top trainer coming over from the UK to judge these trials, and I had to cancel.  Very disappointing, but I had no choice.  Fortunately my friends were able to help me past a couple of hurdles that had been blocking our progress for the last weeks.

This week Fairmeadow Farm CSA starts up.  I am really looking forward to getting a big box of produce again to force me into cooking and being creative with what I have on-hand. I have not been able to get to market for what feels like weeks now and have been surviving on what I can buy at road stands, what my roommate brings home from her garden, or what was in my freezer.  This week I think is the last market for St. Thomas (or does it run until the end of the month?), after which I’ll have to decide if I want to drive to London on Saturdays.  More driving – oh joy.  And on that note, I’m going to get some sleep so I can get up early and enjoy my morning at home tomorrow!


4 Responses

  1. Could you express post the exams in the future? You could look into carpooling. There are a few websites online for ride sharing. This might make your ride more pleasant and you might get to enjoy breakfast the odd time without having to worry about driving! 10-12 hours is so long for the dogs. hmmm maybe you could have someone come and take them outside? A highschool student would love that I’m sure!

    • I wish I could express post the exams but I only got them last night and will take the weekend to finish them. Express post doesn’t do same-day service and they need to be there on Monday by 4pm. And it would be expensive as there’s a whole box to send. The good news is that I have found someone who can bring them into town, and am hoping this prof will be willing to stop by her office to pick them up.

      As for car pooling, the only person I know (so far) who I could carpool with actually leaves an hour earlier and comes home a couple of hours later than I do! Talk about a long day. But I am keeping my ear to the ground!

      I wish I could find someone to take out the dogs but they require someone with some skills. They are a bit of a handful for the novice, even a dog-loving novice. I take it for granted that they listen to me, but they won’t automatically grant that to anyone. And Mira, in particular, is prone to turning into a wild animal (and behaving as such, terrified and escaping) when others handle her in my absence. Perhaps with time I will find someone who is good with dogs and who lives nearby. This may be a challenge as most of the homes around me are vacant for the winter, being summer vacation cottages! My roommate does take them out when she gets home before I do, which is at least some of the time.

  2. i have the same problem with exams… except my commute is only 1 1/4 hours and pan often comes with me. I remember looking into posting exams last year, but there was a legal restriction on that, I was able to email the grades and then submit exams when I had to drive in on another days…

    btw, if you are on the way to waterloo and feel like a break half way home, you are more than welcome to pop by Paris, ON…we even have a great local farm stand that is open all year round (and they still have pears AND peaches!)


  3. You’re so lucky that you can bring Pan with you. I don’t have my own office, so bringing the dogs (or even one dog) is not an option. I sure hope that this will change when I become a permanent hire somewhere! As for the exams, he wants the hard copies, not just the grades, so I have no choice. That said, another faculty member who lives very near me has offered to drive them in for me if I can get approval for that. Fingers crossed!

    I would love to stop in for a visit! I will be driving back and forth a number of times over the next few weeks. I’ll email you my schedule and you can let me know if any of the times work for me to stop by when you’ll be home. Cheers!

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