Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mama Jo comes Home for Christmas

 As you can see I am late on getting this post out to the internet masses. However I have no shame in my tardiness, as I am home and enjoying a delicious time with my family.
But there are stories to spin and share and thus I will unfold a few favourites from this past week.

On Tuesday afternoon I marched into the kitchen with a different stride to my step. Today would be a good day, Mama Jo is in charge. It was my turn to have the opportunity to lead a group, and the group in question under my care was Lucy Maud Dinning Room, Dinner. I dumped my knife kit and note book on the command center, actually it is a stainless steel table with a wobbly leg. My team strolled in and we were well under way by 12:30. On the menu tonight: Orange Chocolate Pudding (made by yours truly), Baileys Chocolate cheesecake, Wine Poached Pears, Citrus Trio Sorbet, and Duo Chocolate Lava Cakes.

My team and I worked vigorously and joyously all afternoon, often breaking out into holiday song to lighten the mood and encourage Christmas cheer. It was a very different day for me. I made two batches of pudding and a dozen short bread cookies but I spent the majority of my time filling out menus, organizing and delegating tasks, communicating with the Chef, checking for reservations, writing lists, scribbling instructions and drawing blue prints on how to plate the desserts for presentation.

After class was over I had an hour of leisure time before I had to be up at the Lucy Maud kitchen ready to plate and serve the desserts. However, that leisure time was spent doing homework and even once in the kitchen I spent the majority of my time chatting with my classmate Hanna, and piddling away at more homework. It was an exceptionally slow night in the dinning room with only 6 orders for dessert. I was excited to plate the desserts for actual paying customers. It made my work and the work of my team feel extra special to have customers buy our edible masterpieces.

Wednesday night brought an eye burning display of over zealous Christmas festivity. North Rustico is the place to be when you want to take in Christmas lights, festive music and get into the general Christmas spirit. My dear friend, Lisa, invited me to accompany her and her family on their annual tour around North Rustico. Like a kid bouncing on her parents bed on Christmas morning I bounced into the back seat of their car and we made our way to the north shore. Along the way we saw houses decorated in colourful strings of lights, Santa and Nativity scene wood cut outs on front lawns, and Christmas candles in the windows, but they were just a prelude to the awesomeness that would unfold.

North Rustico is a beacon of Christmas hope as it sits cradled in a small valley by the ocean. A sail boat strung with white Christmas lights greeted us as we arrived in town, and several houses were decked out in extravagant Christmas displays. However, on the far side of town, shining like the star of Bethlehem was a house that quite literally outshone all the rest. Rather than attempting to describe the grandeur of it, I will simply show you:

Even though the house clearly had the most elaborate and complex Christmas display, my favourite was the house across the tree. The only lights shining from this humble residence was a Christmas tree in the living room window. Soft coloured lights glowed happily and hand crafted decorations hung from sturdy ever green branches. It reminded me of home.  

Class on Thursday whizzed by and before I knew it I was sitting in the Charlottetown airport, feeling very educated and independent as I read my Time magazine waiting for boarding call. Charlottetown airport has two “terminals” 1A and 1B, actually there are two doors 9 feet apart from each other but they both lead to the tarmac. After all the ice had melted off the wings of the plane we trudged out into yet another weather bomb, boarded the plane got comfy and waited for take off.

I love take off! I love the roar of the engines as they power up. I love the thrust of power as we barrel down the runway. I love the sudden gasp of inhaled breath as the land falls away and we rise higher and higher into the sky and I love the jolt and bounce as we battle turbulence reaching the cruising altitude. It became clear that was I alone in my exhilarated bliss during take off, other passengers gripped the arm rests until their knuckles turned white and kept there eyes screwed shut.

When the plane touched down in Toronto I felt an over whelming wave of excitement.  Home. Ontario soil! The benefits of Charlottetown’s petite airport means it is actually impossible to get lost. Toronto airport is massive and it only occurred to me as I stepped off the plane that I was traveling alone. Where do I go? Where is baggage claim? Why don’t those signs correspond with my boarding pass? Where am I!? I followed the small herd of passengers that shared the flight with me and found my bag and then before I knew it was outside looking for a familiar face. After walking around arrivals searching face after face, off in a distance I saw them. Like in a scene from a movie I saw my dear friend Eric and Liz, my pace quickened, I squealed with joy when they saw me, dropped my luggage and ran into their arms in a sweet embrace. We loaded into the car and drove to Waterloo where I would stay for the next two days visiting with friends, making apple bands, and talking until my jaw fell off.

On Saturday my brother, Chad, sister-in-law, Danielle, and their dog, Dixon, picked me up from Grebel and took me to the Ritsema Homestead. On the drive home I noticed several differences between PEI and Ontario:

Differenece #1: Ontario is relatively flat. PEI is hilly. Ontario is no prairie scene, but PEI has considerable more geographical texture.

Difference #2: Ontario houses remain in a monochromatic colour sheme. PEI houses are bursting with colour and snap.

Difference #3: Ontario is surrounded by land. PEI is surrounded by water. In PEI you can drive in any direction for 45 minutes or less and always see ocean.

No matter the differences between Ontario and PEI nothing can compare to the Ritsema Homestead. As we crested the hill just before the farm I saw the pond with a thin layer of ice crusted over it. The fields were dusted in snow, and the house was gently glowing. I walked into the house, inhaled a long breath and drank in the delicious scent. It smelled like cranberry and cinnamon, maple logs burning in the wood furnace, and excessively loved furniture.

After dumping my luggage in my room I dedicated the day to plummeting myself into farm fun activities. My nephew, Landon, came over and to my disappointment he didn’t recognize me at first, but in no time at all he was on my coat tails begging me to play with him. My brother and father pulled out my cousins four wheelers and we circled the back yard like a brood of gleeful children. After lunch we all settled down for a nap and then were up and bouncing around the house once again. Landon and I decorated the downstairs Christmas tree and then assembled the same puzzle 3 times.

It was a wonderfully exhausting day. I slept well that night, in my own bed, wrapped in my own covers, and surrounded by my own walls.

It is so wonderful to be home.

                                           Christmas crazy!

                                                 Me trying to eat te gingerbread house.

The truck reads, "Humane removal of bats, skunks, raccoons, squirrels etc." Only in huron county would see something like this. I have a humane removal tactic as well, it involves a piece of lead and a big bag!


                                    Landons decorative genius.

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