Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 23, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet


When I was packing to come up north last November, my sister suggested that I take some puzzles. I must admit that I am not much of a puzzle maker. Christmas seems to be prime puzzle making time. While mostly a solitary venture, it can often turn into a team sport with anybody and everybody taking a turn finding a few pieces. There is great satisfaction when the final piece is set in place and you can admire the finished product. Then you tear it to pieces and start a new one.

When you think about it, life itself is one gigantic jigsaw puzzle. We’re constantly trying to make the pieces of our lives fit together in the hopes that one day we can say that the finished product is complete. Most of us end up with a few missing pieces.

Starting anything new is challenging. It could be the beginning of university, a new job, a new relationship, moving to a new town or city or even facing a health scare. Those of who have dealt with cancer have had to figure out the bewildering health care system and the various protocols required to get you back to good health.

Not only have I been making puzzles during the long, dark evenings up north, but I have been trying to fit the pieces of my new life together. It is a bit of a shock to the system to go back to work after four years of retirement. Trying to get the neurons firing again hasn’t been easy. Ask anybody who is hovering around the 70- year old mark. “The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be…” Returning to the classroom after a 40- year hiatus has been demanding.

But ever so slowly, like a 1000- piece puzzle, things are starting to come together. The truth of the matter though is that I am unlikely to ever fully complete the puzzle that is the north. Yes, I will become more comfortable with my teaching assignment especially if I return next year which is likely if I stay healthy. I will learn more about Inuit culture and history, but I will never see the full picture. It is a complicated place. “Inch by inch, row by row.”

Sometimes pieces of the puzzle fall on the floor. You need to pick them up and move on…just like in life.

I did a bit of baking on the weekend. One of my students had a birthday on Monday so I decided to surprise him with a cake. I took the easy way out. I hauled Betty Crocker off the grocery store shelves and whipped together a chocolate cake. I decided on a butter cream icing. Now some of you know that one of my daughters is a world class baker. I know. I was her bakery assistant many years ago when she made the best cupcakes on the planet. Her wedding cakes were spectacular. I called her to get her tips on making great icing.

It was Sunday evening and both grocery stores were closed when I headed into the kitchen. The cake turned out well. It’s pretty hard to screw up a cake mix. I followed the instructions and started to ice the cake. I was part way through when I discovered two things. First, the icing was not going on easily. I hadn’t added enough milk. Secondly, there didn’t appear to be enough icing to cover the cake completely.

I had no choice but to make more icing, but my supplies had run low and the consistency of the second batch was different form the first. Quite different. Because the first batch was too firm, bits of the cake had been torn apart. I tried to cover my mistakes by adding a layer of second grade icing. The results weren’t great. You know what a pile of dirty, slushy snow looks like, particularly in the spring during the melting season when all the crap lying dormant in the snow emerges? Well, it looked like someone had taken a handful of this slush and thrown it at the cake. I will have to perfect my technique considerably before entering a cake at the Exhibition.

The kids thought it was great. They ate it minutes before the end of the school day. The sugar high would not kick in until they got home. I’m not that stupid after all.

Staying with the baking theme, I took my class to the commercial kitchen in our school the other day where we made a batch of cookies. It is a great way to teach fractions and the concept of teamwork. We had a blast. Some of my students who struggle academically were superstars in the kitchen. We hope to turn this into a weekly event. Next week, they want to make homemade pizza.

February is lurking around the corner. It is a leap year. The days will get longer. Hope springs eternal.

Have a great weekend.


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