Friday, August 14, 2009

One more for the road

Another season of the Fergus Highland Games has come and gone and with it, another Running of the Mitchells. Not quite as exciting as running with the bulls, but almost. Maybe next year it will be as there is talk of running in kilts. Hmmmm.

IronMan was not there this year, but he had a sub in Little Cameron. I managed to come in ahead of him, but when I ran back to see how he and dad were doing, he was smiling, breathing easy and having a good time. Imagine, fun while you run.

When asked that morning if he was nervous, all he said was, "I don't know, I have never run that far before. Why be nervous?" Good point. Although I have to say his math does not add up. He figured that since he ran 2 km in Kids of Steel, all he needed to do was the same but 5 times over.

That is how I thought of my half marathon last year. 'Well I've run 10km, all I need to do is double it". It doesn't work that way kid. Your body has other ideas. In the end, we all finished and IronGirl even came in third in her class! Good for you!

I was 5 minutes over where I wanted to be, but at least I got some training in for November and my legs look good in the picture, so in the end, it was all good.

A note for brother Mark - being overseas does not mean an exemption from the race and you still owe us dinner.

See you all again next year!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Things Happen in Threes

Well, they say things happen in threes and when it comes to leaks I have to agree. With all the rain we have had lately, I was not surprised that something, somewhere had to start letting water in. Even with no basement, rain water has managed to sneak in the house. Off my kitchen is a decent size deck that sits on the top of my garage and under the planks, water found the path of least resistance, not the downspout, but a hole.

I hate the first of each month as my maintenance cheque is taken out of my account, but have to say, it’s much easier calling a management company that it is a roofer. Presto – there was a knock at the door, a ladder over the railing and man with a caulking gun in his hand.

He did not feel the need to rip up the deck as he found a few spots where the old caulking was dried and pulling away from the edge of the door frame and he thought it might be sneaking in there. We have had two rains since and a dry garage, so fingers crossed.

Just before that, I had taken Liza into the spa for an oil change and check-up. All seemed to go fine. A few days later she was getting a vacuum and bath when I found some oil on the garage floor. A cracked oil pan? Leaking transmission? My mind raced through a litany of catastrophic options.

I headed back to Canadian Tire and explained my dilemma. In about 10 minutes she was parked back in the lot after a brief trip on a hoist. I had not been paged while I was in the store and felt that was a good sign. After waiting about 30 minutes and asking about my car twice (both times being told the paperwork was being processed) someone asked me what car I was waiting for and I pointed her out.

“Oh, your key is right here in this drawer. The washer on the oil pan nut was cracked, we replaced it and topped up the oil”. So relieved at the good news and no bill, I let the 30 minutes go.

And finally, a few weeks ago, I was in my powder room and felt a plop of water on my head. ‘Well that’s not right’ I thought to myself. Upon further inspection I found a small puddle on the floor and a small water stain in the ceiling around the fan.

Oh dear. Right above the fan is my bedroom's en suite with three potential suspects, a toilet, shower and sink. I ran upstairs, filled the sink, and then let it out. Back at the crime scene; silence, no dripping and no water. I repeated my experiment with a few inches in the bathtub and came up with same dry results.

A flush of the toilet revealed the culprit. On the upside, it only happened when the commode was in use so it was not coming from the feed pipe. IronMan was on the horizon as were a few other more pressing matters, and with two other bathrooms, I just turned off the water and got on with things.

Over the next couple weeks, I did my plumbing analysis. I removed the fan from the room below thinking I would see a cracked waste pipe. But once the fan was out, the box was in the way. No luck. Thoughts of drywall cutting and/or ripping up tile floor danced about in my head, not nearly as nice as sugar plums.

As my parents were coming for dinner this weekend, I thought I would ask my dad if he would have a look. “Sounds like you have a cracked gasket” he said. IronGirl quipped “I have extras at home. You can have one if you want”….. they don’t call it The Homo Depot for nothing.

So, today, I stopped by, picked one up, and being plumbing capable, when I am told what needs to happen, switched the old, gross, fuzzy ring with a No-Seep No. 1 wax toilet bowl gasket. No more leak!

I also learned a little something from all these leaks, there is always a silver lining. I could have had big bills, major work and more serious damage. In the end all it cost was a phone call, a quick drive and 15 minutes of work with pliers and plumbing tape.

I do hope though that my next threesome comes in the form of lotto wins!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I LOVE clarified butter

So it is not the healthiest thing in the world, but it has to be better than margarine and all things in moderation I say. Last weekend, IronMan and I went to see Food Inc. An interesting movie about where those neatly wrapped chicken breasts, pork roasts and steaks you see in the grocery store really come from.

There were the usual pictures of abattoirs and what goes on behind closed doors. I do not consider myself squeamish, so the butchering and packing piece did not bother me, I know that meat doesn’t grow on trees. But what I did find shocking was that some of the animals have so many hormones (so we can get those big white breasts) injected, or are feed nothing but corn, and get so heavy they can’t even stand up! Using the forklift just to get the cow on its legs so you could kill it was a bit much.

So, I am going to try and eat only organic meat. This is by no means my first foray into this arena, but a more concerted effort will now be made. So last night I found myself at the Village Butcher here in Lakeshore Village (if I keep calling it that cute name, maybe it will one day be true). Four lamb chops, a New York strip (apparently Iron and lamb do not mix) and $44 later (I can clearly see this is going to be a pricey endeavour) I headed home to BBQ.

Yes, they were pricey, but oh sooooo good. Yes, you really can taste the difference. The chops were huge and the steak nice and thick. In order to kick off this new habit with style I cracked open my French Laundry cookbook for a fancy starter. I didn’t have all the fixins, but made do. Try this, and your taste buds will love you, your arteries ask “what the hell is going on”?

Clarify 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Use a mandolin (thanks Fauntleroy) and slice two regular potatoes and two sweet potatoes nice and thin. In the bottom of a cast iron pan (or other oven proof skillet) put about ½ tbsp of the butter and put over a low heat. Start with a layer or regular potato, then the sweet and then salt and pepper. Sprinkle with one - two tbsp of butter, repeat twice more. The original recipe is all white potatoes with prunes softened in chicken stock in the middle – also very good.

By the time you get to the top, the bottom layer will be starting to brown. Chuck the entire pan in a 450 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes. The bottom is crispy, golden and so good. If you have a twin pan, you flip your “cake” into the other and brown the ‘top’ as well.

Like I said, you can’t eat this everyday, but it is a fine treat!