Walk Like a Ballerina

Winter came late to Ottawa this year. December was mostly mild with very little snow.

Christmas Day was well above zero and it was raining. The grass was still green, for Pete’s sake!

But this past Sunday, January 4, we had:

  1. Snow
  2. Freezing rain
  3. Rain

All in one day! It was Nova Scotia weather in Ontario!

The shovelling was bad, my husband told me. As a result of all that shovelling, the freezing rain fell on a clean driveway which means that it is a solid sheet of ice. So it was salted.  But all the salt mines of Tanzania don’t produce enough salt to melt the ice that covered everything.

The trees and shrubs were ice coated and glistening in the sunlight which followed the “weather bomb”. It is just so pretty!


The temperature dropped from +8 C (45F) on Christmas Day to -25C (-13F) yesterday.

So now, when I venture out of the house, I have to walk like a ballerina.

You know. The teeny tiny steps, like Margot Fontaine dancing in Swan Lake. The arms outstretched and flapping in the air, like a bird ready for take-off. I mince my way down the driveway and do the ballet dance all the way to the bus stop.

I HAVE to get to Tim Horton’s to have a cup of steeped tea with my friend, Joan.

I feel as if an audience cheered as I entered the coffee shop. But I think some of them were hoping I’d fall.

I just hope I remember the dance steps for the trip home.

Happy New Year to all of you. May you be blessed with health and happiness. – Maureen


Searching for a Good Cup of Tea

I started drinking tea when I was a young wife, living in Africa.  Zambia is a member of the British Commonwealth, so tea-drinking was already a tradition when we were there from 1966 – 1968.  Have you ever read Alexander McCall Smith’s, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency series? It is set in Botswana, a country we visited when we were in Africa.  I don’t think any detecting could be done without the ladies being fortified with a cup or two of tea.

As I was growing up in Nova Scotia, tea drinking was very important.  I remember my mother saying of a woman who was visiting her who refused a cup of tea, “When I asked her if she wanted a cup of tea, she said no, she didn’t like tea.  Not like tea?  I’ve never heard of such a thing!!” 

When we moved to the States for a couple of years in the 1980s, a neighbour asked me over for a cup of tea.  She  poured a cup of warm tap water into a cup and gave it to me along with a tea bag.  I drank the resulting brew – I won’t call it tea – but the next time we got together, at my house, I showed her how to brew a perfect cup of tea.  I like to think she was thankful for the lesson.

Over the years I have tried with very little success to get a good cup of tea at a restaurant.  I have had no luck until recently.

At first, the tea was always served with cream.  If you wanted milk, you had to ask for it and you were looked at as if you were crazy.  I am going to tell you something.  Coffee may taste better with cream, but tea does not!  Most of the time, you will be served a cup of hot water with the tea bag on the side.  This will not do!  Tea has to be steeped!!!

How to make a perfect cup of tea:

  • Boil the water.
  • “Hot” the pot – pour a small amount of the boiling water into the empty tea-pot.  Swish it around.  Pour it out.
  • Insert the tea bags or loose tea – I prefer tea bags, but many prefer loose tea.
  • Pour a full pot of boiling water over the tea bags/loose tea, and let it stand or “steep” for 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Pour into a tea-cup.
  • Serve with sides of milk, sugar and/or lemon.
  • Enjoy.

My husband has learned to make tea this way and every morning, my tea awaits me when I get out of bed around 7:30 a.m.  The first cup of tea of the day is the best.  I recommend husbands everywhere learn to make steeped tea.  It will bring you much happiness in your marriage!

I said earlier that I had not had a good cup of restaurant tea until recently.  We have a restaurant here in Canada called Tim Horton’s that is well-known for its coffee.  What many people don’t realize is that for the past three or four years, Tim Horton’s has steeped tea.  They make it perfectly and it always tastes fresh and refreshing.  However, as far as I know it is available only in Ontario.  I know Quebec doesn’t have it.  Any other provinces have steeped tea?  Let me know before I travel there please.

Did I tell you that I love Tim Horton’s?  I wonder if they learned their tea-making skill from my hubby!