Tuesday, December 26, 2006

.....and then the day was done......

So, Christmas Day is over.....and the shopping madness begins (or continues?)

It was a quiet day....slow starting, slow moving, and slow ending.....
We webcamed with the travelling offspring to open presents and it was wonderful!! For the rest of the day I felt that I had actually spent time in the same room with them ....in person....and it was a good feeling.

Because it was a sleepless night for me on Christmas Eve, I napped for 2 hours in the afternoon and then we had our M & M dinner!! I must say that their Beef Wellington and frozen veggies are quite lovely. We had a huge turkey dinner last weekend, so turkey was NOT an option for us on Christmas Day. We decided to go the convenience route and bought 2 single serving Beef Wellingtons from M&M and a bag of assorted frozen veggies (so much fresher and tastier than the supermarket assorted veggies!!) and then we had potatoes. ....and that was our dinner ....with wine of course. After dinner we relaxed on the couch drinking wine and chatting (mostly reminiscing!) and then watched a VHS version of Holiday Inn. That was about it for me.....I headed to my bed to read and then snuggled up to sleep the night away.....and didn't emerge until 10:45 this morning. It's amazing what a couple of glasses of wine will do to you!!

Today, it's present wrapping for J'little bro's prezzies as he's arriving late on Thursday....and then tomorrow we just may attempt to tackle the crowds and pick up some last minute stocking stuffers for J.

We have snow on the ground and more to come today if the forecasts are right.....so I guess it's just stay at home day for sure.....time to make appetizers for New Years Eve......hmmmmmm.......or not. I'm going on gut feeling here.....do I feel up to it.....or is it just wrapping and reading today? We will see. Time seems to fly by so fast.....

All in all.....a very satisfactory Christmas Day.

Best wishes to everyone and I hope your holidays are special and full of good things.....and as I recently heard one person say in his greetings.......just don't forget to laugh!!

It's all good !


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A pictoral essay....getting ready for Christmas...

The tree is up!! In it's little nook, surrounded by accumulated stockings draped on the railings.
It will sit like this for a few days "to let the branches fall into place"......or so they say. Who is "they" you ask??? Well....that would be the people who sold us the tree.
I miss the tree farms....:-(

Time to take a break and enjoy the snow falling in the back yard. The top picture is of an apricot tree stump that used to have a bird feeder on it that I haven't set up for this winter yet.....tsk tsk....I really must get to that. Poor birdies!!

This is looking out directly from our patio doors to the terraces in the back yard. The rocks are where the wee meeces hide out in the winter in the hopes of grabbing a few tiny seeds that the birds spill about! I took both of these pictures with a flash at night and the falling snow came up wonderfully....although I'm not sure you can see it in these pics.

Well....the lights are on the tree now, but not so visible in the daylight......mini-lights also went up around the front windows so we could view the North Thompson valley through a halo of slowly changing colours.

Whew....that was exhausting....time for a nap with the cat!!!
...note the bins of decorations...they will remain there for a few days.....keeping the lights on the tree company!!

Saturday was tree trimming day....a day of memories with each of the ornaments collected for J & T over the years. I believe there are at least two that T (Stella) cross-stitched for Grandma, which I inherited ......also little stockings with coins in them that were knitted and crocheted by Grandma for J & T...with their initials worked into the stockings.....a silver bell with J's name engraved on it.......and somewhere (not on the tree) there is an ancient Christmas card given to my Mom and Dad many years ago, with a little lad in his jammies and plaid dressing gown....singing...."Oh come ON all ye faithful". That card always sat on the piano when I was growing up....and always made me giggle!!

The finished product, taken at night without a flash. I do think that this is the nicest way to view a decorated lighted Christmas tree......don't you?? It glows!!


Monday, December 18, 2006

A good evening.....

A good evening.....2 brothers, 1 husband, lots of Christmas food, wine, single malt scotch, and much conversation full of many memories.

Far exceeded expectations!!

We definitely must do this again sometime!!


Friday, December 15, 2006

A Sad Day....

Today has been a mixed day.....which has ended in sadness.
We started the day with excitement, planning our trip to Shrewbury, flights, car rentals, dates etc.....it was wonderful and we finally got it sorted....although nothing booked yet...but itinerary has been firmed up.
After this, I decided to make some more shortbread, still feeling pretty upbeat, thinking about Christmas and the upcoming visit with my brothers......then the phone rang.

My mate answered it and I knew from his voice that it was my dear aunt from the coast....and then I detected a note of distress and surprise in his voice. He mouthed to me that my cousin, whom I've only just over the last few years gotten to know again, had passed away this morning.

A huge weight has settled on my heart.....

My aunt (his mother) of 95 (whom I've blogged about previously) was remarkable. Apparently it was a lung cancer that travelled very fast - weeks rather than months and the end was days rather than weeks. She was grateful for that. He didn't suffer long and now he is at peace. She lost her husband four years ago after a long drawn out battle with cancer and she could not go through that again.
"My dear, I am so thankful that I had him for 73 years!!" was her response.

I didn't see my cousin that often, but we did send emails and cards, and my aunt kept us both up to date on each others comings and goings. He used to bring her out to visit us when we lived in Langley. I have memories of my childhood when he used to babysit me and my brothers. He was a bit wild at times, but always so much fun and he thought the world of my mom and dad.

There is a lot that I can say, but suffice to say that I will miss him, or rather I will miss knowing that he's there if I care to email him....I will miss hearing about his studies at SFU (just to keep his mind active)......I will miss hearing about the excursions that he and Auntie D. took to Steveston ....... I will miss hearing about the good natured ribbing between he and his brother.....and I will miss hearing about the close friendship between he and his lady D. that lasted for 50 years.

It has all become memories.......

It seems that, lately, so much of my childhood and past is being relegated to memories.

But as we get older I guess that's as it should be.

Rest well cuz...


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Funnel Dogs, Craft Fairs and Such......

Today we took our little Bichon, Chauncey, to the vet because he had been licking his right paw incessantly. Well...it appears he has a compulsion to do so...for whatever reason...and so to stop him and let it heal...he now wears one of those awful collars. So it looks like he has a funnel around his head....
He is not adjusting awfully well.....and we still have tonite to go through. I really hope that he gets used to it....it saddens me terribly to see him like that.

On to other things.....the craft fair.....that was

So after being so terribly organized (with the help of my mate) I was ready to go at 5pm on Saturday night....a totally new position for me to be in. My children will tell you that Mom always was up until 4am the night before trying to make that one last ornament which invariably didn't sell. So we relaxed on Saturday night and watched the temperature drop, the wind pick up and the snow turn horizontal and drift around our street. When we woke up Sunday morning we could not see the North Shore and the snow and wind were still horizontal and the temperature was hovering at -11 without the wind chill. However, not one to quit when committed, we loaded up the car and SLOWLY made our way over to the venue on the North Shore to find that many others had braved the elements to do the same thing. We crafters are a sturdy lot!!!
It was cold, but we managed to find our table and set up everything. Only 2 ornaments needed repair due to transportation damage, which was a miracle. A few changes had to be made on the table because I hadn't tried out the design in a practical fashion...mostly theoretical....but it was nothing that couldn't be changed on the fly.
After we set up....I got more coffee....and then I sat....and watched everyone.....chatted a bit....and the day wore on. I sold nothing....nada...not a thing. So I made a few observations....
  • Kamloops is just not ready for me as an artist.
  • what I do is not a craft anymore...it is art.
  • what I do is unique
  • several people loved my work, but didn't buy....and loved the idea of making a children's book out of what I do. (Encouragement is always good!)
  • there is STILL no one in my area who does what I do.
  • I am going to spend the next year improving, writing, experimenting and having fun
  • I will target a higher end show and maybe small gift shops
  • and finally....a comment was made to me that people in Kamloops will ALWAYS go to something that costs little or nothing to get into....as a form of entertainment....they don't go to buy so much as to see what's there. A different concept to be sure...but then it's the venue, large and full of a mixture of crafts and commercial ventures. One needs to have a show that specializes in nothing but handcrafted items....so we will see what we will see ....next year.
On the whole it was an interesting experience....I wasn't particularly upset about the non-sales....because I went into the fair with the attitude of experimentation....and if things sold... fine and if not...that was fine too. To see the new ornaments that I added to the mix, go here
and click on Nutfolkery II. The other work that was on my table is in the other folders on that site, with the exception of my Christmas photo cards. I would like to post them...just haven't figured out how to do it. I took photos of local snowy scenery around Kamloops (and my backyard!) and printed the photos onto glossy fronted cards and added original sentiments and non-original clipart appropriate to the pictures. I did the designing of them last year, but decided to try to sell them this year. I'm thinking that maybe I may not continue down that route....but time will tell.
So there you have it.....all the excitment....all the buildup....all the work....for nought...financially....but a true learning experience in showing direction.

And finally.....
All you Lower Mainland people ....for goodness sake....stop whinging about the snow and cold. Try being up here where it is presently -24 with snow on the ground....like this
and this.....
and you have to do this......
and it's STILL -24 outside....you know...that's when your NOSE HAIRS FREEZE!!! (However, I do sympathize with your power outages....but you know..it's all that WET snow!!) How can you tell I'm a former coastal resident.
..and I will not gloat to Stella and King D because their time is coming back there.....it's not a case of if the snow will come....but when....

On that note...the furnace is turned down for the night and my studio is getting cold....time to curl up under the duvet with DH with Funnel Dog on my feet!!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Freak out time......aaahhhh!!

So I head to the computer this morning to check out the inventory of photo cards I have on file.....that I made last year and want to sell this year.
I bring up Printmaster ( the new version that I installed when we got the new computer) and go to Import.....and there is....... NOTHING!!!
It's one of those times when you absolutely KNOW that you did something, but can't figure out how you did it. I KNOW I saved the Project Files from the old version of Printmaster.....now did I save them to CD....or did I save them to the "Old E Drive" which is now on my new C Drive?? Ahhhh.... therein lies the question.

I spent the better part of 2 hours searching through my files (and everyone elses!!), my laptop files, and any CD that had been burned as backup during the transfer to the new 'puter. I was beginning to feel desperate......even thoughts of backing out of the craft fair had entered my mind....I mean these cards make up a good portion of my stock. There was a short period of euphoria when we discovered that several CD's had been knocked down behind the filing cabinet....but that was dashed when they were all what they purported to be on the outside label....darn!!

My mate tried to get me to leave the chair and let him look, but I declined vehemently.......I KNEW they were somewhere.....they just had to be......didn't they?
I was on the verge of tears.....(I get that way sometimes )...

I glanced down between the filing cabinet and the desk and there was something there....."D., can you come and reach in and see what this is??" I called.
Sigh...it was just a slip of paper.....but wait!!
D. says "Oh look, there's a couple of CD's back here as well......(as he pulled them out) ...and one of them says PRINTMASTER PROJECTS!!" Yaaaaayyyy!!!

Crisis averted......panic attack quelled......NOW I can go and get dressed!!!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coming up for air.....gasp!!

I have spent the last little while, buried in my workshop, surfacing this past weekend to play a concert with the KSO. However, I am buried again and I have finally sorted out a few things.
  • a refurbished design for my table at the craft fair this weekend. Suffice to say it involves a vase with branches, berries, and lots of glue...oh...and a basket with rocks and moss.....and 2 tableclothes, a Christmas table runner with tassels and a lovely crystal bowl engraved with First Nations artwork....and a lazy Susan. Now that should get the imaginations working overtime!! I will post a picture after the craft fair, as I plan to get my mate to take pics of it for posterity!!!
  • I have taken stock and have a good many ornaments of the Nutfolkery variety that are on pedestals or clamp to tree branches.....so I am presently making more of the hanging variety. (You know....to hang on those branches in the vase...with the berries and the glue..in the basket with the rocks and moss.....etc. etc. etc....?). After I get all the ornaments done, I plan having my mate take pics for my Picture Trail page...so I will mention here when the new pics are posted. Hopefully it won't be long.
  • I will work tomorrow and Thursday and then leave Friday for getting things organized and in order...and packed up. Whatever is left undone on Thursday night will remain undone. I have learned over the years that last minute late night projects invariably NEVER sell and were a waste of time and energy not to mention the lack of sleep involved. I have been averaging around 4-5 hours or more of work daily... spread throughout the day and evening (I even have my TV shows on in my workshop ....thanks to the travelling offspring...and yes, I do watch some of them....although I can listen a lot and figure out what's going on without watching).
So....I blog tonite to say that although I haven't blogged for a while, I plan on making observations of my craft fair experiences after the weekend. I will be glad when it's all done....I'm tired and I want to just be able to sit and read for a while without feeling that I have to rush downstairs and start working. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do.....but as it gets closer to show time....it gets more stressful....one never feels that enough is done.

So I'm finished for tonite and I will be down tomorrow morning to start again.

Off to the teapot!!!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom.....

So....I noticed as I was posting the previous blog that the date had turned to November 11.

To most people this is Remembrance Day...or Armistice Day as it was when I grew up.

To me...it is my mother's birthday....she would have been 95 this year. She died October 29, 2003.

She always remembered her birthday as the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year.

She was a gracious lady whose smile and generosity was legendary.

I miss her. Happy Birthday Mom.

I am woman......I am calm.....

I discovered something about myself today.
I am calm.....or so it seems.....
I have been working for a week or so on two tiny penguins and an even tinier baby....making them just as good as I possibly can....
Tonight I dropped one....the daddy penguin....and broke off his beak.
....and I can't find it.....
I managed to find a piece of cooked clay and reformed his beak and glued it back on.....
I sanded it....and it came off again......
So I glued it back on.....and there he sits on his back with his beak in the air....awaiting a paint job....
I am calm.....
I am amazed that I am calm...
Who knew????


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pain, Pain go away......(in a whining mode)

For about 2 years now, I have been routinely taking 2 Tylenol Arthritis every morning for pain, both FM and arthritis pain. I have to take it on an empty stomach because of the way it works....apparently.....so ....as soon as I get up, I take it, along with a Glucosamine supplement.

Today was one of those days, (I'm sure most of us have had them) where you have to fast from 10pm in order to have a blood test at 8am (or later). So I packaged up my pills to take before we had brekkers at Denny's after the bloodletting. Needless to say, I forgot to take them....thereby causing me to wait until my stomach tells me it's empty....(you know...that aching, growly feeling) before I can take the pills again.

We decided to do some errands while we were out....Save On (for prescription drop off) Costco, Home Hardware and then back to Save On (for prescription pick-up) and shopping.

It has been a long time since I had forgotten to take my pills in the morning, but it has happened and I've managed ok. However....this morning, it hit home just how debilitated I have become without the Tylenol. By the time we reached home again, I was moving VERY slowly, with a cane, wincing, and generally in total agony from shoulder to foot.

If there is ANYTHING that will encourage me to keep changing my lifestyle and losing weight etc., etc., etc., it should be the memory of this morning. It MUST get better, because, quite frankly, it can't get any worse.....or maybe it can.....but maybe the wording is MUST NOT get any worse.

So, I will take the pills shortly and then life will improve markedly

Here endeth my whine....


Thursday, October 26, 2006

A New Season starts...for me.

So...my symphony season starts today at four o'clock with one of two rehearsals today, followed by another rehearsal and two concerts tomorrow and Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, getting back into the swing of regular practice and seeing the orchestra members again after the summer break. I have been practicing myself fairly regularly and it's always nice to have something toward which you can direct your practice......a goal as it were. The season goes until May, once a month. The music is good and challenging for the most part, forcing me to keep my practice level up to a reasonable standard

The other new start is that I have finally gone full circle and landed right back where I started, creatively, working with my nutfolk, full of new unique ideas. Having taken that break from them, I now have decided to take time and really CREATE them....not just throw them together. For those of you who don't know what I do or have done.....I have them on a site at picturetrail
They are combined with other work, but the main creations are under Nutfolkery.
The ones that are posted are done as non-hanging ornaments.....I now plan to go back to hanging ornaments....and therein lies of the story of their beginning.

Quite a few years ago, I was searching around for some "crafty" thing to do and found these two books on making Christmas ornaments out of nuts. So I started using the directions from the books. However, as time went on, I realized that there were much further directions I could go in. So I put the book aside and proceeded to create people, and animals in different situations ....all as hanging ornaments....except for the cows (which are entirely my own creation). As I became familiar with polymer clay, I thought that I would use it to make some of the accessories of my little nut people. It worked, but took more time....time that I didn't have....so I reverted back to using felt and popsicle sticks and pre made accessories.

The last time I had them in a craft fair (one I had been in for years!)...I didn't sell a one...first time ever... so I decided that someone was trying to tell me something and I haven't been in a craft fair since. That was 4 years ago. In the meantime, I had been encouraged to write stories about my little people....for children. At the time I thought it was a marvellous idea....and I have copyrighted the name of my people and work.

When we retired to Kamloops, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to make good on the story idea....so I started trying to write stories of the varied little guys that inhabit my workroom. However, as some may know....stories don't just appear...they have to creep up on you and niggle your imagination and force you to sit down and put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!) I managed to get a few stories done, but then life intervened and they have sat....despite enumerable efforts on my part to get motivated. I had intermittently been working with my little guys and managed to photograph them, put them on pedestals, take them from being hanging ornaments to just ornaments and then published them on Picturetrail. Finally, I decided to put everything aside and just let something happen....

So.... I started trying out different artistic pursuits...sketching, watercolours, getting interested in vintage fabric, textile art, sewing, and I even bought a tatting shuttle to try to learn that almost lost and delicate art. No nutfolk...and no polymer clay.

One night about two weeks ago, I got an epiphany and shot up out of bed and headed down stairs to my workroom. I hauled out all my half made ornaments and set them up on my work table, put on the "daylight" light and just stared at them. The ideas just came fast and furious....about everything.

So the upshot of all of this is.....I have applied for a craft fair and if it's available, I will be in it on Nov. 26. I have mentally decided what I'm going to do and I have started work on some new ideas for creating nutfolk. As to the writing...ideas always occur to me as I'm working, so I will jot them down and hopefully it will help to create stories. I will still use polymer clay, but organize it so that one day will be put aside for claywork (like penguin flippers, top hats, penguin feet and beaks, mouse tails...etc....) because claywork requires cooking and that takes time...so best to heat my little convection oven all on one day (or maybe two) and get it all done at once. Then I can just put my little guys together and the fun begins...dressing them....the ladies in lace and velvet and the men in toques, top hats, skiis, scarves etc. I don't think that I will totally limit them to Christmas, but make them so that they can be used at Christmas or just hung from a lamp stand or something similar!!

You see.....I finally realized after all my whinging....that what I do is unique....it sounds somewhat odd...."nut ornaments"....but I make them special and I do it well...and I have never see anything like what I do. So I think here the old adage applies...albeit somewhat changed for my purposes...."if it ain't broke, don't fix it" ....and my addition is "just gently improve it!!"

So there you have it....my mojo is BACK!!

......and while I work...I listen to RTE Lyric FM out of Ireland....and hear what life is like 8 hours ahead and over the pond!!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

.....Is that sunshine??

Things are coming to me.....ideas.....direction.....insight.....and occasionally joy!!

I feel that I have been in a somewhat bleak area of my mind in the past months and I think now the sun is starting to break through. The light is beginning to glimmer and my mind is beginning to work the way it was meant to.

Time and again, I am suddenly struck with a thought to which I respond by saying (in my head) "That's it...of course....that's it, now why didn't I think of that before?" I try not to get too enthusiastic because, of course, one doesn't want to "jinx" it :-).

However, there are times when I just smile and think YES!!!

I just wanted to blog that along!!


Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Special Lady.....

This is about a very special lady in my life. She is 95 years old, a free spirit, a mother, an artist in so many ways, a writer, and a musician . She is not my mother, but she is the closest thing to my mother. (My mom died in 2003). I love her to bits.

We talk on the phone regularly and we giggle, laugh uproariously, discuss and exchange ideas, news about the family and she is a sounding board for me and my life. I always feel so good after talking to her.

An example of part of our conversation....a somewhat trivial part, but nevertheless a funny, happy and delicious part....we were discussing the differences between Tickleberry's Ice Cream in Okanagan Falls (where we both have visited) and an ice cream stand in her area .......especially the double and triple cones. This conversation lasted for a good five to ten minutes filled with much laughter!! She enjoyed remembering Okanagan Falls and I enjoyed....well....I enjoyed talking about ice cream!!!

She also recounts stories of her life in Victoria in the early years of the 20th century, clear, descriptive and if you've any imagination at all, you live it as she tells it. She speaks with humour and compassion about her early life and it's a fascinating way to spend time....on the phone or in person.

She is in a wheelchair, but still keeps her own spacious apartment. She cooks and bakes, entertains, plays the piano, sends email on the computer (she has a laptop), writes children's stories and then illustrates them in her own unique way and her apartment is a gallery of her paintings and sculptures. She can talk about anything, she reads voraciously, keeping up with world events. She is bound and determined to live to be 100.....and I think she will do it.
She has an enthusiasm for life that I can only hope that I would have at that age.

She is my mentor, she is my role model, she is everything that I want to be when I grow up!!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pickin' & strippin' basil....musings....

So I found out today that pulling up basil (or pickin' it) and stripping the leaves off the plants is a process that provides a good deal of time for musing...reflection...or whatever!!
  • I have this pain in my pinny (as my mother used to say) and I've learned that it usually means that I'm stressed over something. So...I think tonight, I will carefully go over the landscape that is my life and try to figure out what the problem is. In the meantime.... I drink water....lots of it!!
  • The neighbours have their back door open and their voices are carrying over to our yard. This is a new experience for me as our previous house was on 3/4 acre and we either didn't hear our neighbours or weren't around when they spoke loudly enough for us to hear. In any case, I can't really hear what's being said apart from the fact that the father seems to be on the phone a lot (I keep hearing him say things like "See ya Monday" "Is that all good then, See ya later" etc, etc, etc, ). The dog keeps wanting out and then when they let him out he turns around and wants back in again, so the screen door is opened by an unseen hand and he's back in again....and then it happens all over again.
  • We have these unusual little bugs that have arrived on our deck....they fly, and they're red, and they crawl....sometimes on my foot!! We have a container on the deck that we use for water for the dog and cats and it has become unwittingly a receptacle for bugs who have "drownded"....I try to deter the animals from drinking before I can empty it, but my mate says...."Ah, don't worry...just more meat" Eeeewwwww!!
  • My fingers are greeny brown and smell deliciously of basil....
  • Why does our patio table get a coating of something dirty on it that you can't see unless you feel it and/or wipe it? Where does it come from....is it something to do with the mill that spews that atrocious odour which we get if the wind is blowing the wrong way? Is this something that we are breathing?? Scary......
  • Nice new computer....reeeeally reeeeally fast....keyboard doesn't stick and we finally figured out (with nephew's help) that our optical mouse skips because it needs a texture surface, not a smooth mousepad surface. I guess that's why my laptop one worked really well when I was blogging in the car in Osoyoos and using it on my leg!!!
  • Lady on t'other side of us has emptied her swimming pool. It's quite a process....at least we think it is...we watched surreptitiously and intermittently (from our bathroom window) as she cleaned the pool with that long pole thingie and then she fiddled with the pump and then she covered the pool with the winter tarp....and put the weights around the edge. So, over the past few days we have watched the water level descend slowly and I expect if I looked now or tommorrow it will be empty. My question is....where does it go....does it go so slowly that it doesn't affect the city's sewer system? In any case, when her pool is empty, you just KNOW that summer is over, even if the temperature is 27 deg. outside.
  • I have started practicing again.....concert at the end of the month. It wasn't as horrible as I had imagined...I expect that the interim practice sessions that I had during the summer kept the embouchure from totally withering!!
  • Going to the coast and staying at J Little Bro's place on Friday and Saturday nights. We are heading to Victoria for the day on Saturday for a 75th birthday celebration. Yes, Travelling Offspring...we will say hi to Victoria for you!! Chauncey's in the kennel to catch up with little friends during our stay. They say that dogs don't have any sense of time and that when we return to pick him up, he doesn't really realize how long we've been gone. It's nice to believe that...cuts down on the guilt a little.
  • So, one thing about the new computer....my mate has been able to install his Age of Empires III. My question.....when will the novelty wear off??
OK, my musings are scattered and somewhat disjointed....but then that's the condition of my mind. I have basil left in the garden (purple variety, which is hardier) so I expect at a future date more things will be contemplated, blogged or not . Now it's time to go up and try to grind up the leaves that I have so studiously picked and sorted, add the oil and put in the freezer for winter pesto..


Saturday, September 23, 2006

As requested......PLATZ!!

  • The recipe isn't the original one that I got from Country Woman that was sent in by a lady in Yarrow, BC (I lost that in the move!).....however, it is virtually identical and I have cut and pasted it as posted by a lady from UVIC.
  • I apologize for the metrics...although I know that those of you MUCH younger than me will have no problems with that....I did...... so... I'll let you figure out the equivalents!!
  • She does give you full rein on the fruit you can use.....I have used blueberries, blackberries, plums, apricots, apples, peaches and actually mixed several types of fruit, sometimes blueberries fill in the gaps between the big fruit quite nicely.
  • It fits into a jellyroll pan and when cut into sections freezes great. Travelling offspring and J little bro used to eat it for breakfast regularly.....as do I. I presently have a peach platz in the fridge AND freezer.
  • You can double the quantity of topping to totally cover the fruit or you can use it sparingly...whichever takes your fancy. I have never grilled the top....but I think that's "taste" thing....whatever suits you.
Fruit Platz


125 mL butter or margarine
125 mL sugar
2 eggs
5 mL vanilla
500 mL flour
10 mL baking powder
180 mL milk
1 L fruit (sour cherries or apricots are recommended)

The batter should be thick but not really pourable.


250 mL flour
250 mL sugar
125 mL butter or margarine

- Spread the batter on a baking sheet (about 1 cm thick)
- lay the fruit on the batter
- top with the topping
- bake at 175 C for 30 minutes.
You might want to grill the top a bit (carefully).
- I recommend sour cherries, apricots or plums for the
filling. Apple would also work well. Try any fruit
you like! Apparently the South American Mennonites use
bananas or other tropical fruit.
- Using canned apricots will not give you a good result.
I freeze a bunch in July and ration them all winter.
Home canned, fresh or frozen sour cherries work really


...and feel free to ask questions!!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New computer...old files....total exhaustion!!

So...we're getting this awesome new computer tomorrow. Built to order it is... with a 19 inch LCD monitor and other cool up to date thingies (as you can see, I'm really computer-literate!! :-0)).
Anyways....we've known that it was coming as of last Friday....so I've really had a week to sort through and eliminate over 5 years of CRAP!!

We decided to have the computer guy transfer over our data from old to new....but still I felt I should back everything up and/or delete "just in case" and to "make things easier" It was an exhausting process.
King D..... I don't know how you can sit at the computer for so long without collapsing.....I guess it's about age....you're younger and able to absorb all the data and info and spend time looking through things and figuring out if you can do this or that....but at my age....I think I need to do it in 15 minutes segments with 2 hours rest in between!!

I finally got smart this morning and phoned the computer store and asked what exactly they would be transferring over from our old hard drive. Well....let me see....all My Documents....emails....bookmarks....address books....and they will install my email program and browser for me..(you see I don't go with the flow...I use Mozilla for both), and anything else that they think should be transferred except installed programs..... so I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then my mate said....."Well...if you're doing it anyways...wouldn't it be a good idea to just "clean up" the email and stuff ??" This was after burning umpteen CD's of pictures in the High Mat format (which took FOREVER!!)....so I did some more email.....then said "That's it...I'm done. I have faith that they will transfer all safely...and if they don't....tough toenails!!"

So...we bought a cheap Zellers bookcase for all the odds and sods paper and stuff and we re-styled the computer desk (took the hutch off) and now we have a bright new computer room just waiting for the new stuff!!

And where do I go when I'm finished....???

.........downstairs to write my blog!!

Ahhhhh.....but this is FUN!!


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sleepless in Kamloops........again.......

It is yet again one of those nights where I lie awake with my mind going full speed ahead, while my body is saying ...."puleeeze.....let me rest!!!"

So I come downstairs, and putter on my laptop, play FreeCell......and come up with a blog...of sorts.

As I sit here, I always think I hear weird noises upstairs.....but it's usually the cats calling each other.....House noises seem to be amplfied when I'm on the lower level....not sure why that is....probably something to do with furnace noises. The house speaks through the furnace...I'm totally sure of it!! Definitely a language all it's own though!!

I am sure when I go back upstairs and look out the front window, a glow will be starting behind the mountains down the valley, reflecting the sunlight to come. It's now 3:53am

I don't have much else to say, except that life continues to be good, peaches and plums are delicious (we picked lots today!!) it's cool outside, and I think I will try going back to bed!!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Touring the Okanagan......where wine is king!!

These are some pictures that we took on my digital camera (when we remembered) of our tour around the wineries.

So we start this short picture essay at St. Hubertus on the Okanagan Mountain side of the lake. This was a winery affected by the fire of 2003 (They have pictures as you enter the shop) and in the background you can see the remnants of the fire on the mountainside. The winery is run by two brothers, one using the label of Oak Bay and the other using the St. Hubertus label.

These are two pictures taken from the Noble Ridge Winery above Vaseaux Lake. Absolutely stunning view...it was taken about 11:30 am on a beautiful sunny morning. The second picture shows the netting over the vines to prevent the birds from feasting!! There were varied methods to combat birds.... cannons, netting (various setups) and I have even seen glittering strips, although I think those are more for the orchards. Interesting that in Langley, so much is made by the neighbours of the noise of the cannons for the blueberry farms, but up here, it's just a matter of course....but then vineyards are probably so much more prevalent up here and it's all a part of the lifestyle....you live here, you accept it...simple as that!!

These next few pictures were taken at Red Rooster winery....the home of "The Traveller", which, if you're wondering, is not available because he is presently in Langley getting bronzed!! However, these gorgeous bronze art pieces more than make up for his absence.

This is my mate pretending to take a bronze suitcase statue into the winery.
There are, as you can see, suitcases lining the walkway into the Wine Shop

Front view of a rather tousled mermaid....and you can see in the background the big doors of the winery and the bronze harp next to it.....a pic of that is coming up....

Side view of the same....

I noticed that a lot of wineries carry a wonderful selection of local artwork. Nk'Mip in Osoyoos is especially notable for their aboriginal artwork, one of which I bought on our trip last year.

These next two are on either side of huge doors leading into the actually winery part (not the shop).

I think the sculptures are pretty much life size.....but the doors are huge.

Apparently the little bird here (it's not real) is a type of quail that is the official regional bird....and those are arms playing the harp.

This was an intriguing little bench at Red Rooster...not sure if it would hold me....but I'm sure it would work for someone....and I do like the music motif....

A little bird house of sorts....note the suitcases...and ignore the dear lady who unknowingly got into my picture!!

This is our wonderful little Bijon companion for the trip...Chauncey....and those of you who know us, know that he is spoiled.....but... ooooh sooo cute!!
While we travel he sits on my arm resting his paws on the edge of the car window surveying all as we tootle along. Then slowly his head sinks to rest on his paws and the eyes close .....all is well in his world for a time. Whatta dog!!

And then there is this picture.....my mate took it of me feeding the fishies and the ducks, whilst Chauncey waits for any crumbs!!

I have made it my desktop background, primarily to remind myself of how broad my backside is!!!

And so, there we have it. Not a lot of pictures of wineries....but some. It was definitely all we had hoped for and now we must get back to the business of being retired.....at home!!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Home again....

So ....we are home again.....and again I am in the "Sleepless in Kamloops" mode...which actually works well when you want to catch the Travelling Offspring for a chat on MSN.

I have repaired the awful formatting on my last two blogs....I gather the formatting from Word carried over into the blog and I only just figured out how to get rid of it. They now look somewhat normal.

To recap the last few days....

Naramata winery trip.....wineries visited...Noble Ridge, Wild Goose, Tangled Vines, Blasted Church, Hillside Estate, Red Rooster and Lang Vineyards. There were so many more but our budget was waning so we went for ones we knew....hopefully next year we will go for ones new to us. We also had lunch at the Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa in their Wine Bar in the basement...actually we were on the patio.

I won't go into the type of wines we got....but just a few notes on that trip....

We took the route from just before Okanagan Falls up over the hill to the wineries up top....the first one we visited was Noble Ridge....new this year...at least to us. Beautiful winery and view and nice wine. Wild Goose was also in that portion of the trip and across the road from W.G. was Tangled Vines which had only been open for a day and specialized in white and rose wines.

Then we headed down into Okanagan Falls and through over to Blasted Church with their lovely sweet dog who greets everyone. We then tootled down the lakeside to Penticton and through and up to the Naramata Bench. Hillside was the very first winery we ever visited so we paid it a return visit. Then it was down to the Heritage Inn for lunch....sooooo good spinach and artichoke heart pizza with the Lang Vineyard Foch accompanying...my mate had a lamb sausage penne. We then went to Lang Vineyards and finished up the Naramata tour with a visit to Red Rooster (wonderful bronze artwork).

Monday we spent the day resting, reading and doing a few postcards, and swimming and sketching....and the day went so fast. Dinner was at the Wildfire Grill in Osoyoos, delectable as always.

We headed out Tuesday morning (yesterday) and visited the Golden Beaver Winery in Oliver....we just had to go there just because of the name...it's new owners of an old winery.....and then we went to Hainle Winery in Peachland....one of our staples...Zweigelt!!

On the way out of Oliver we stopped at Covert Farms which is actually Pancho's Market up in the hills and picked up some yummy Roma and regular tomatoes for canning and sauce, and Gala apples for pies and some more bread dipping sauce. They also had the BEST Berry Zuchini muffins of which we got two of for our lunch.....with a Starbucks coffee....eaten at the Pyramid Rest Area on Okanagan Lake.

After visiting some friends in Vernon, we were home in Kamloops by about 8:30....feeling rather exhausted.

Our total take this trip was about 3 cases of wine....not including the few bottles we had whilst staying in Osoyoos. Less than last year...but we learned more about wines this trip...which are keepers and which are good for the cellar. I've also got the most recent Wine Trails news and have found lots of interesting infos on what's out there and what's popular. A good trip all round and to top it off, the delightful lady that runs our motel has told us that next year we can stay for a week and add an extra night for free....so eight nights for the price of seven. How cool is that. We just love it there.

So, the pictures I have posted here are of the motel in Osoyoos. I have great pics of the carp swimming in the water, but they seem to want to post those pics upside down and I haven't figure out how to fix that yet. I have a few pictures of our trips in winery country and I will post those tomorrow.

In the meantime....I should really hit the hay.....
....or have coffee!!


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Now the car is fixed….

So finally my mate returned home with a car that charged up nicely….and left us a few dollars poorer!!

Today (being Saturday) we decided to head to Kelowna and check out a few of the bigger wineries that we usually avoid. Those were, Summerhill (Pyramid), St. Hubertus and Cedar Creek .

Summerhill (despite the “Pyramid” ) had little that we took a fancy too, in the way of wine that is. The gift shop however, was another story. We picked up some good wine glasses, Raincoast Crisps by Lesley Stowe and Dagoba dark chocolate (3 bars…one with chiles in it!!).

We then headed to St. Hubertus (which I gathered had been rebuilt after being destroyed by the 2003 Okanagan fire) and picked up some Oak Bay Merlot, 2004 and 2005…..and finished off the wine part of the journey at Cedar Creek….where my mate picked up a cheap Proprieter’s Reserve for dinner tonite and then 2 bottles of Cabernet Merlot along with my two bottles of Wineland Dressings, Roast Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette and Raspberry& Black Pepper Vinaigrette.

We finished off the journey at Carmelis Goat Farm with two different types of soft goat cheese, some Asiago and Artichoke Chardonnay Bread Dipper and Franciscan Fig Balsamic Vinegar.

So having done our yuppy and yummy shopping, we headed back to Peachland for a very late lunch!! I had never been on that side of the lake and so seeing the damage of the 2003 fire up close was a new experience. Lots of rebuilding has been done, but it’s still very evident….as they usually are.

We have a favourite restaurant in Peachland…it is called the Blind Angler and it’s right on the lake. We sat on the patio and so enjoyed our lunch/dinner. All wonderfully home made and the older jazz music quietly in the background…it was a great way to finish off the journey of the day.

Weatherwise..the much needed rain did appear and it was much cooler, which was good. Nevertheless, we still went swimming went we got back to the motel…it was chilly but really refreshing. Having hot tea when we got back to the room was a perfect antidote…..along with pie that we had got at one of the markets. So today has been a good day…..

Tomorrow we are going to Naramata and hoping to lunch at the heritage inn there in their little wine bistro in the basement. A few of the wineries we are planning on visiting….Red Rooster (a wonderful Foch last year), Lang Vineyards (ditto with the Foch last year) Blasted Church, Stag’s Hollow, Wild Goose and I’m sure there are many others….we are going to try to visit a few we have not visited before.

On Monday we plan to just hang around the motel and dine at the Wildfire Grill in Osoyoos…..at least that’s the plan. Time to head home on Tuesday with a stop to visit friends in Vernon. This will be posted the same day as the last blog….but they have been written on Friday and Saturday and posted on Sunday. I’ve been writing in Word and cutting and pasting into the blog. My internet time is limited, so I try to be as quick as I can.

Anyhow….Sorry M….we didn’t see Orofino, but hopefully next time.

So glad we have heard from the travelling offspring and that things are starting to pick up in Shrewsbury!!

J little bro and his lady are having a weekend away from Baby J to recharge and recoup….good for them.

No other bizarre occurrences involving air mattresses and cigarettes…but the ducks and carp are very friendly!!

Chauncey has been behaving wonderfully and everyone at the motel loves him….what a sweetie he is!!

Till next time...


Holidays are …..interesting???

So we started our holiday in a haze of smoke….slightly smoky in Kamloops and then progressively smokier as we headed off the Coq..down 5a to Princeton. It was quite bizarre….the scenery had this kind of matte blah look to it….all the same…no depth and the colours were all muted. It got better as we headed from Keremeos to Osoyoos and for some reason, it was smoky in Osoyoos, but the lake seemed quite clear . The only way you could tell the smoke was around was if you looked at the mountains…which were just ghostly shadows and the sun was obscured…..and the moon was bright red. However, around the lake, things were quite clear. As our days have progressed things are a tad better. We actually got to SEE the sun yesterday and it’s amazing how much warmer it was…and just heat….less mugginess.

We visited three wineries on our way through Keremeos….St Lazlo’s…which was a total bust for us, Crowsnest which has improved soo much since we last visited and the wine was excellent. We picked up some Chardonnay and their 2003 Barcello Canyon Merlot. We also visited Forbidden Fruit Winery which is tucked away in the Similkameen valley and has the most delectable fruit and dessert wines. We picked up their Asian Pear wine “Impearfection” and a peach wine “Crushed Innocence”. Both will go well with nice sharp cheeses and crackers….wonderful ending to a meal!!

Since arriving in Osoyoos we have visited four wineries, Desert Hills (1st on our list!!), Silver Sage, Carriage House and then Nk Mip in Osoyoos.

We were disappointed that Desert Hills was sold out of his red wines including his incredible Gamay, so we tried the Chardonnay, which was excellent. So we got 2 bottles of the Chardonnay and he rushed into the back and came out holding up a bottle of Gamay, so we managed to get one bottle. He advised us to drink the 2004 we had in our cellar and store the 2005. We have also been put on his email list to get first divs when his next lot is ready.

Silver Sage, used to be primarily a fruit winery, but now it has included some nice grape wines….we got two of their Pinot Noir and we then headed to Carriage House and picked up a Merlot. The lady at the Carriage House was nice, but not happy about the advent of four new big flashy wineries that will be going up in the area. She gloomily predicted that all the cottage wineries will be history in a matter of years. Oh I hope not!!!!

Our final winery so far has been the Nk Mip…..which is expensive but oh so worth it if just to see the native artwork. We did buy some of the less expensive Chardonnay, which was not bad at all.

So…as to other areas of this holiday…our car has been a naughty Volvo!! Unfortunately we have a history of discharging batteries (three in the last 2 years) and the dealer where we get it serviced can’t find the problem. Well it discharged the third one yesterday and presently my mate is sitting in Oliver awaiting the new one which, hopefully will arrive in short order. Needless to say, we will be finding a new repair shop in Kamloops when we get home.

Other than that….we have been swimming everyday, walking everyday (that’s ‘cause of Chauncey), reading a lot, and sitting on the patio at night before bed. I’m starting to sleep better, it is hot, but luckily we do have an air conditioner in the bedroom, which is loud, but ….hey….you get used to it!!

I leave this blog with a vision I have to share….picture this….. Gorgeous hot day….lake gleaming in the sun….and in the middle of this… a lady…with bleached blond hair…in a bathing suit somewhat on the too small side…...lying ACROSS an air mattress on her stomach…. in the water….with a 4 inch long cigarette in her hand, puffing away!! I mean…..sigh….what IS the world coming to!!


Saturday, September 02, 2006

A time for us..........

So......the travelling offspring are safely (if not necessarily totally happily as yet) esconced in Shrewsbury, J little bro is in his new apartment (although not yet unpacked) and we......we the parents....are now preparing to take our annual little R&R in Osoyoos. It's only for a week, but in relaxation years, a week is pretty close to a month.

It's been a spring and summer to remember... in all aspects.....happiness, sorrow, stress(read worry) adventurous and many other adjectives that my mind just can't come up with right now.
However, we made it through and now it's time to take time....for ourselves.....and do what we love to do....which is travel and taste wine and read books and in my case, varied artistic pursuits. We will have our little Bijon Chauncey with us to keep us sane (or insane as the case may be) and so we leave the house and Chloe and Mrs Tubbytoes (Putz) in the capable hands of my dear brother, fill up the CD player with travellin' music and skip town, kicking up our proverbial heels all the while!!

We are planning to travel down to Merritt and then take the Old Princeton Highway from Merritt to Princeton and then through to Keremeos and Osoyoos. A little different route for us as we usually just take the connector from Merritt to Kelowna and then down through the Okanagan. This time we want to just drift and of course there are at least four, if not more, wineries on the Princeton route...so a good time to pick up something to try for our first meal there.

We stay in a one bedroom unit at a nice little motel right on the lake with it's own beach and friendly carp and a huge patio with BBQ's for resident's use. The patio is festooned with fairy lights at night which give just a wonderful romantic air to the night when you're nursing a glass of Gamay on the lounge chair, trying to figure out what lights are coming from where across the lake...and watching the traffic come up from the border. We swim everyday, and walk every day, and then head out round and about to various and sundry wineries, wending our way up through Oliver and onwards to Naramata and around Kelowna. The more northern Okanagan wineries we leave until we're heading home up through Vernon and across to Kamloops.

Sometimes we just stay around the motel and catch up on our reading.....or sleep.....or swim....or whatever takes our fancy!!

The nice thing about going just after Labour Day .... the weather, for the most part, is cooler, and all the people are gone...it's mostly couples like ourselves who have the same ambitions as ourselves.....relax and recuperate.

Last year the motel did not have internet access and may not have it yet or ever (much to my mate's delight).....so if I feel the need, I know there is (or used to be) an internet cafe......otherwise I will be "offblog" for a week from Tuesday.

Enjoy the weekend all!!


Friday, August 25, 2006

They have arrived!!

Just a quick post to say....the travelling offspring have arrived safe and sound.

I'm sooo glad!!

Sleep well my dears....you deserve every moment of rest .... it's been a marathon!!

I'm so proud I could burst!!

Love and Hugs all round!!


Sounds, sights and scents.....

This Kamloops morning.....

...the phone ringing at 5:45 am with our dear daughter on the other end telling us that they were through the border, visa acquired, and were now halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. I then got up, put the coffee and computer on....and checked out Google Earth to see where they were.

...Chloe and Mrs Tubbytoes (aka Putz) whinging for breakfast (our feline housemates)

...the train whistle of the Rocky Mountaineer as it wends it's way onwards down to Vancouver.

...incessant yammering of magpies at something or other...all around the neighbourhood!!

...the said Rocky Mountaineer as it wends it's way onwards to Vancouver as seen through our living room window through binoculars (we do have an awesome view!!)

...the morning sun shining brilliantly on our patio table and chairs and showing off the hanging baskets magnificently!!

....a tiny bird (sparrow??) hopping between the grape vines in the garden (the cats watch unblinkingly)

...mate and Chauncey dog stepping briskly off for their daily walk


...the "zesty" smell of the deodorant soap in the shower this morning....and the lavender shampoo!!

....the wonderful smell of Starbucks beans, ground and brewed in the early morning... there's nothing quite like it...except for Zack's beans (a Kamloops specialty!!)

...mate's aftershave as he gives me kiss before said walk...(he just recently shaved his beard off...so it's noticeable!!)

...basil, basil, basil....I cut the basil regularly to prevent flowering and it's a job I love to do. The scent of the basil is unbelievable and it stays on my fingers as I take the leaves from the tougher stems. I have two tubs of pesto in the fridge...so this batch will be for fresh use and possibly freezing in oil Still lots left in the garden as well. I also have tarragon to do and sage....and catnip and lemon balm (my sleep combination!!)I will no doubt freeze the tarragon and/or make vinegar and dry the sage, catnip and lemon balm. I also have some winter savory, 3 mints, lemon verbena and rosemary to decide what to do with.

....the leftover night time scent of the stocks as I pass by during my daily "deadheading" routine. We have a large patch of Night Scented Stocks in the front and during the nights when I can't sleep...I stand by the open window and the smell of them just wafts up and envelopes me. I want to plant a lot around the patio next year. This year and last, we had one plant...which was pretty good, but I think another, plus some sweet peas would just stink up the patio nicely!!

And as I finish off this blog entry, I still smell the basil on my fingers...sigh...and I have found a site that calculated the driving time between Buffalo and Shrewsbury....6 hours and 43 minutes....not too bad....the travelling offspring should be nearing their new home in about 1 1/2 hours (it's now 11:30am PST).
I love and miss them sooo much!!
I'm such a Mom!! :-)


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!!

So I turned 58 today (August 21). I mention the date because I'm in one of my "Sleepless in Kamloops" modes and it's now early morning on the 22.

On reflection, I think I'm finally getting somewhere with this "finding my creative spirit" thing.
Whilst lying abed this night with no sleep, it occurred to me that there seems to be a common thread in all my creative meanderings......the past. Irish History and Irish family history, old family photographs, historical journals, reading old letters and early attempts at poetry and prose....I think that I have always been more comfortable in the past rather than the future (with the exception of the computer)...and somehow I think that's where my spirit lies in some way, shape or form.

So that's as far as I've got.....some further cogitation required.

As for my day....it was good....restful morning, and in the afternoon a little exploratory expedition in the car ending in Chase by the lake for some paddling and sketching while my mate binoculared and photographed and walked the dog. Home for a nap and then out for dinner at Kelly O'Bryans (free for me 'cause it was my birthday)....ending with a yummy strawberry shortcake which I just could not finish...more's the pity.

I am still sad, but having talked to the travelling offspring, I feel a lot better....in fact I downloaded Google Earth for my laptop (we already have it on the PC) so I can follow their route.....it's an easy and novel way to see how they go.....and you don't have all that unfolding and folding of maps!!!

So now I should try to get some sleep.......such a necessary part of our lives, but sometimes so hard to accomplish!!


Saturday, August 19, 2006

....and then they were gone......

So....yesterday morning the travelling offspring said their farewells (well I think we ALL blubbered our farewells!!) and took to the road, heading for Edmonton down the Yellowhead.

It was a good visit....lots of conversation, still some long distance tweaking in arrangments to do, and lots of good food and good conversation. "J- little bro" arrived about 15 minutes after T&D and Bastet on Friday so we all sat on the patio and caught up for a while.....after which we decided that a heavy dinner wasn't on, so we made up plates of bread and many cheeses and veggies and and other snackies and sat around the dining room table and talked more. Gradually the menfolk faded out to their respective beds and mom and daughter finished the wine and chatted 'till after midnight.

Thursday was spent making last minute calls and checking on arrangements, laundry etc.... and then T and "J- little bro" took off for some brother/sister time and shopping for a while.

So.....as we were having lunch, they arrived home and lo and behold.....a gift for Mom....(it's my birthday on Monday you see)....a wonderful Mediterranean style appetizer set of several small dishes (all difference shapes) and one large pasta or salad bowl. It was just so amazingly appropriate for me.....my style totally!! The birthday/bon voyage celebration continued with a dinner at Ric's Mediterranean Grill downtown and then finished off the evening with a wonderful cheesecake and wine at home. T and I finished off the evening (and the wine!!) out on the patio chatting again...whilst the menfolk watched Two for the Road.....:-)

Everyone was up early to say goodbye on Friday and after they left and we settled down a bit "J-little bro" joined us on a trip to the Wildlife Park and we all quite enjoyed it....especially the Raptor exhibit. Our dear son left around 6'ish and phoned when he reached Chilliwack.....(it's a tradition you see....just to let mom know he made it over the Coq ).

Finally got word (after a phone call) that T&D had reached Edmonton safely, at which point, I retired to the bathroom and soaked in a foamy tub of lukewarm water which smelled strongly of lavender, chamomile with a hint of rosemary, with a nice glass of Desert Hills Gamay close to hand!!

It has been an emotional three days....it whizzed by just too fast......and I still can't believe it!
I think it will all sink in when I finally get emails from Ontario and Shrewsbury.

Their adventure has started.......and it will be good


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wine and Appys on the Patio.....

Our family will be here in the next little while.....our two children and one son-in-law. We will all be gathered to bid a fond and loving farewell to T & D and Bastet!! It will be an emotional few days, but I am going to try to make it also a relaxing and tasty start to a long road trip. (How can you tell that T and I are mother/daughter :-).....it's all about good food and good wine!!)

To that end.....I have roasted almonds, will be roasting chickpeas, making jumbo raisin cookies ,(which I would have baked today, but I had no eggs!!), maybe making Welsh cakes, chopping veggies, making dip, buying wine, cheese and interesting bread...and especially for T.....GARLIC SAUSAGE!!.....in short, all the things that the travelling offspring find enjoyable..(I hope). Also there will be a good supply of "Mom's comfort food" for all the family.....which comfort food it is, I have no idea....but I shall be prepared for anything!!

After the mad panic of the departure, some down time relaxing on the patio is definitely in the cards for both of them.....while Bastet reclines on the bed!!

It's interesting.....up until last night I was wondering how I was going to cope with these few days....my chest was tight, I was verging on tears and all in all I felt like s**t!! So this morning....after sleeping rather badly, I got up and we did a whip'round cleaning up the house and getting the beds ready. I had a lovely phone talk with my 95 year old aunt about everything....I so love her to bits....she knows me so well... because she is me.... in about 40 years.

After the chat we had lunch and I decided to nap. (Naps are a good thing) When I got up .....I decided to cook and bake......well...cook maybe (it's the almonds you know??) and leave the baking until tomorrow after we get some eggs etc....so now....I feel so much better, like a load has been lifted. It's all about doing things to make people happy......thinking about how they feel rather than how I feel.....sigh.....what a relief.

I will still be sad when they leave, in fact I can guarantee that I will weep copious amounts of salty H2O, but now I will think of the positive side of it all and send them on their way with all the support, love and prayers I can provide.

But first........it's about that wine and appys on the patio.........


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Not yet.....

As yet, I am unable to write about the forthcoming travels of our dear daughter and her beloved.

I may be in denial...I don't know.....but I cannot yet change the lump in my chest into words on a screen about this change in our lives.

Maybe in the days to come, I can do this.....

....but not yet.....

It has been a long day......

We did one of our marathon visits to the Lower Mainland today.......
Our reasons for doing so were twofold.....to return my brother-in-law to his home after a week with us.....and to connect with a friend from my past.

It is the latter that I write about now.....

It has been 33 years since I have seen PMc. She was my room mate and travelling companion when I was studying in England in the late 60's and early 70's. We were close....as close as any two friends could be. After I finished at college and came home, we kept a somewhat infrequent correspondence and then after a time, it fizzled out as our lives progressed and got busier. A few years ago, I did some research on the net and came up with her email address. So I emailed her and asked if she was who I was looking for....ie...are you the PMc that was in London in 1969 attending......blah blah etc....and wonder of wonders...I got an answer!

I replied and I think we had about 2 emails and then they too fizzled out. I managed to get her on my MSN contact list and chatted somewhat hesitantly once.

So....about 2 weeks ago, out of the blue, I got an email from her saying she is going to be on a flying visit to Vancouver and can we connect. We could and we did......today.....it was wonderful and heartwrenching.......
Two hours is definitely not time enough to catch up on 33 years of a lifetime. However, I did find out enough to know that we have in many ways followed a similar path.....and I want to continue the contact.

So....on the drive home to Kamloops, I decided that it was so much better to curl up with a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of wine and READ a snail mail letter, than to read an email on the computer.

Tomorrow, I shall start a written correspondence with my friend and hopefully it will be like in days of old....where you don't just necessarily talk about what you're doing and who's doing what, but you also discuss ideas and exchange thoughts on everything that matters. Whether she will answer in the same vein I have no idea....but I'm willing to give it a try.

I also have made a mental list (I'll make a written one tomorrow) of people I would like to write to in non-email form......and as my mate is going to be down helping the travelling offspring this weekend (yes he DOES get to go down there again, only in his truck this time), I will start my writings. Not all can be written in the same way, but I'm interested to see what kind of response I get to an actual letter on paper. I believe that I will also put my travelling offspring on my list as well....beware T&D!!

I will not be writing these epistles by hand.....I am unable to do that anymore.....so I will type them in script and print them out and then sign them, no doubt with handwritten PS's.....

I'm looking forward to this as not only a writing exercise, but as a way of keeping in touch that seems to mean so much more than words on a screen, even though they start out that way.



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Passion for books.......

When I was growing up, my father was an avid reader....and he passed that along to me as I grew up. I remember him telling me to never throw out a good book as you may want to go back and read it again. I still remember him in his recliner in the rec room reading until all hours of the night.....it drove my mother crazy!! I was reading adult (meaning for adults not children) books from age 8 onwards.....I would find them in the book case and half the time I wouldn't have a clue as to the meaning of some of the words....but I got most of the gist of the story. Then I discovered Zane Grey....and devoured every book of his that my father had. I did manage to come across Lady Chatterley's Lover when I was in my early teens....it was hidden in a closet, away from prying young eyes, but I snaffled it nevertheless and read it through and then replaced it in it's hiding place!!

I think it was just the need to read (unintentional rhyme there!) that caused me to read everything in sight. When I got older I did start being selective. I don't remember ever really reading very many normal young people's books, but some of the children's books that I had, dated back to the early part of the century.....from my mother's childhood.

At some point in time, I discovered romances.....ah!!... the delight of it!!...and my aunt had a stack of them!!!....and they were easy to read and would take me away to exotic places that I could only dream of visiting!!

I pretty much stuck with the romances and magazines throughout my 20's, 30's and 40's, mostly due to the fact that I was so busy with study and then marriage and kids, time to read became a precious commodity and as time was short, I wanted a quick read that would liberate me from the stresses of daily life....(doesn't every person want that at some point??).

As the kids got bigger and left home and "mom" had more time....I, along with my mate, re-discovered the local library. What an amazing resource!!! I found that I had certain tastes in my reading.....mysteries....British mysteries......drama....British drama.....some humour, biographies, history........it was a wonderful experience.

So now we are in present day.....in Kamloops.....and I have a stack of books that are just waiting to be read. I have discovered Peter Robinson....and writer of Inspector Banks mysteries, Ian Rankin, a mystery writer of Scottish origins......and I have a collection of books by Anne Perry, Maeve Binchy, Carol Drinkwater, Charlotte Bingham, Erica James,Gerald Durrell, Jacquie Durrell, Anya Seton and many many more (after all I DID inherit my father's collection), ....and they are a mixed bag....mystery, drama, biographical, nature ....and that's not even counting the 2nd hand books on Winston Churchill!!! I believe I have about 7 or more of them. We also have many classics, Canadian writers, poetry, English, Canadian and Irish.....the list is endless. The Kamloops Symphony Book sale was just a major source for me especially considering I was one of the volunteer sorters and had first divs!!

Lately I have been focused on Irish books....anything to do with Ireland and it's history, culture, geography, and of course literature. That is because I have developed a longing for information about the land of my ancestors....and it started with the reading of Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt...I then did some research and found that he was not the only McCourt to write, so I ordered anything by any McCourt family member from the library. I then found a list of Irish authors and poets and historical books on Ireland...which I copied and will work my way through. Trinity by Leon Uris was suggested to me....and so I got that and read it...and am now soon to tackle the sequel Redemption. The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford is also in my stack of books as are Roddy Doyle and Nuala O'Faolain among others.......I'm a tad obsessive with this particular subject.....but it's a good obsession!!

So..... in between all the "Irishness" I have also re-discovered Lucy Maud Montgomery.....I'm not so much reading Anne of Green Gables and others, but I'm reading Maud's journals which give an incredible insight into her life in PEI, and later years. She not only talks about her day to day life, but also how she's feeling emotionally and physically as well and her observations about people and life. There are several books of letters by her and 4 more volumes of journals that I'm going to tackle......and then I will go back and re read all the Anne books that I have. That should give me a wonderful basis to enjoy them with!!

My passion for books.......almost overwhelming at times.....but one that will never leave me.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Energy Level is up......a bit......

So the last few days I have been drooping so to speak....the heat has driven me to retreat and hibernate somewhat. However, I went to bed relatively early last night and was up at 6:30 this morning.....when it's definitely cooler!!
My energy level is up so I think a few projects should be at least attempted......and one of these is to "clean slate" my workroom.

I have been in a quandry the last little while, with no incentive to continue on with the artistic path I have been following over the past year or so......working with polymer clay......or even my Nutfolkery for that matter. I'm not sure why that is....I'm finding my mind is somewhat fragmented at this point...so I'm thinking that I am going to clear the workroom, pack away everything and then sit in the bare clean room and muse on "what's next".

Several things come to mind and one is to go back to sewing and possibly trying to design or at least enhance a present design to meet my criteria for what I want to wear. I have a myriad of different materials of my own and also inherited from my mom. Some are very old and dated....but they appeal to me in some way....I keep thinking that I could design something that would incorporate the retro material into it. I mean some of the textures and patterns are quite unique in their own way. I have some patterns that can be added to and changed to some degree and I've always thought that if I have an outfit, top or something that really fits well, looks good, then I should wear it into the ground and then take it apart for a pattern. I've never done that...but that might be something that I could add to the mix...so to speak.

I also think I would like to draw and paint a little more....I'm really not very good at it. I have these great visions of things I see in my mind or perhaps dream about....not quite sure which...and I would love to get them down on paper. Oh to have a digital camera to take the pictures that roam in my head....well....maybe not ALL of them :-)

I'm sure there are other artistic and creative options out there and they may eventually include polymer clay and my Nutfolkery people.....but I need to start again.....from the basics and see where the journey takes me.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A little less US and a little more ME!!

Ok, so I'm running into this problem.....what do I blog about???
I sit here and my mind runs through a myriad of subjects.....none of which seem appropriate for this blog. ...probably because my life is not very interesting at the moment.....in fact it's kinda boring!! However, that's nobody's fault but my own I guess. I have to make my own entertainment. I have been cogitating on an upcoming situation though.....

This weekend, DH is heading down to Victoria to pick up belongings that can't be transported to Boston by our "travelling offspring" and so will be stored at our home in Kamloops. This is a huge deal for me because since we have been here, I have not been alone for any length of time. I also am planning to travel to Sun Peaks on Saturday BY MYSELF to hear the KSO et al play.

Now I emphasize the whole BY MYSELF thing, because since I arrived in Kamloops with DH I have been fighting depression....not so much from the move, but from a lot of stuff and baggage that preceded it over a number of years. I have made much progress with the help of a wonderful counsellor, but there are things that I still have to push myself to do and venturing out on my own is one of them. I did do the drive from Kamloops to Hope to pick up the "travelling offspring" with no problem last summer, but that was a route that I knew well.....plus having the complete recording of La Boheme playing was wonderful .

When I think back to living in Langley , I remember that going out in the car during the day was stressful for me, unless it was to go pick up the kids from school or similar....anything else had to be planned to last detail and thought about etc....unless of course, DH was doing the driving. So a lot of my days were spent at home. I'm finding that to be the case now and I just KNOW that it's not healthy....so.....pushing myself to get up and out there is a big priority for me. This weekend will be a challenge to see if I find some excuse to NOT go to Sun Peaks.

It's funny though...the stress is all in the anticipation....once I'm out there on the road, I love it. I love to drive, I love the freedom. A few years ago, I would come up to Kamloops to play in the orchestra and I would drive the whole way on my own and just revel in it. I need to get that feeling back....a lot of the "not driving" was local stuff...and I still have problems with that....trying to figure out how to get places.

I'm actually quite capable....I think it's all about confidence in my abilities to cope with any situation. I mean.....one of the reasons I got a Volvo when I bought a new car in 2001 was so that I would have a safe reliable car for ME to drive around in......and it has proved to be so for the most part...the trouble is...it's not ME driving around in it....it's US.....which is not a bad thing, just a little less US and a little more ME would be a better thing.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Summer Evenings....

I have discovered summer evenings in Kamloops.
The last few late afternoons and evenings I have taken advantage of my nice wooden lounger (with cushions) out in the back yard and reclined and taken in the spectacular view of the sky. I know it doesn't sound that exciting...but watching "the clouds roll by" is an experience not to be missed in Kamloops. There is always (well almost always) a wind that grows in the evening up here and sometimes it's quite a heavy wind and other times it's a cooling breeze.....but whatever it's speed the cloud formations that it produces are phenomenal. They range from delicate brush strokes to big daubs of white clouds being chased across the sky by the ever present thunderclouds. There are streaks with wispy ends, blurred transparent mists that glow orange as the sun begins to set, and then there's the big globs of white fluff that gradually distintegrate into various and sundry shapes as they fly by. I sit enthralled until the night descends and only vague shadows are seen in the sky.
Usually Chauncey is curled up between my ankles oblivious to the granduer above.
It provides a wonderful peace with which to end the outdoor portion of the day.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Just rambling.....

When I come downstairs to blog, I usually have something to say. Today, I have nothing....well nothing that I want the world to hear about....yet.
Actually, that's not entirely true. I do have lots to say, but when it comes time to say it...."it" disappears and my creative mind is empty.....such is the case today.
However, I'm going to ramble for a bit and hopefully some sort of pattern will emerge, other than "I'm wittering!!"

So...my heart is heavy right now....but that's a story for another day and another blog...suffice to say that as a mother I feel helpless .....it's about letting your children make their own decisions and live with them..advise when requested......and be there to pick up the pieces when they fall. So this weekend will tell......or not.

Thankfully the temperature in Kamloops has decided to come back down to more normal figures....I believe today's high will be about 29, which is far more manageable than 39.....although in a previous blog I said that the day was supposed to be 39...whereas in actual fact it only got up to about 30 or slightly less......thanks to thunderstorms and rain.
My two (count 'em...2) hummers are happy with me since I changed their feeders. In the heat, the hummer food tends to go off quickly....(read ferment) so I've decided to make less and refill more often, so I don't run into that problem.....otherwise I could have some loopy hummingbirds crashing around the patio!!

I have been reading a lot lately....a lot about Irish history...and I am enjoying it immensely and finding out that I knew very little about my ancestral home and it's struggles. I am just about 2/3 of the way through Trinity by Leon Uris.....the book which has been the biggest eye-opener to me. More will come as I delve further I'm sure. After this one is finished, I have a few smaller books to get through and then I'm going to go back to Ireland.....so to speak. I'm sure I have a least five books that have to be started and finished....plus about 6 or more books on Winston Churchill that I'm ploughing through. They are scattered around the house and depending on my mood, I pick up whatever appeals to me at the time, although Trinity is only a limited time loan from the library so I'm concentrating on that for now. Since we retired, I have rediscovered books. I found that my reading was scarce before now, because I never allowed myself to sit down for periods of time to lose myself in a book. I kept telling myself I had better things to do. Luckily I got past that attitude last summer, so now I have no problems getting absorbed into a book. I do seem to have an attention span problem though. I can't seem to read more than 15 minutes or so at a time without having to put the book down and do something else or just sit and cogitate for about 10 minutes. Who knew that my mind would become SO active in my later years......and now for something completely different......

These pictures are of our two children and our son-in-law. Theyare shown in the situation they do best.....laughter, camaraderie and good times.
We have been blessed with our children and too the delightful young man our daughter married, who has added much love, joy and a new appreciation of puns and unique humour to our family! Our family dynamic has changed recently with the arrival of a grandson, with our son becoming a devoted and loving father.
There have been some bumps in the proverbial road this past year, and it has become apparent to me that our family is strong, loving, and supportive and will continue to be like that in years to come. I love my family so much, because they are THERE...whether it be by phone, email, letter or in person.....it's all about family....as it should be!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

it's a hot day in Kamloops...

So the weather report this morning said that it was supposed to go up to 39 deg. celsius today. We do not have central air conditioning, however, we do have a fairly well insulated house and 2 large fans and a tiny one (for the computer).

The one thing about Kamloops in the heat is that unless you're a sucker for punishment or a total sun-loving persona, you have to stay indoors or be driving in an air conditioned car, or visiting an air conditioned store or similar. To stay out of doors in the sun at any other time but early morning and evening, in my opinion, is bordering on INSANE....and almost unbearable. We had to take our car (our beautiful air conditioned car) into the shop yesterday where it will be languishing for nearly a week, so we're told. We have another vehicle....a TRUCK....a NON-AIR CONDITIONED TRUCK....that has the shocks of a wagon (at least for me!!). So we have to use that, which doesn't really distress my DH that much due to the fact that it's his vehicle, however, when we were driving it yesterday, I had the window open and my elbow resting on the windowsill as we were sailing along the Overlander Bridge. It felt like there was a hair dryer blowing on my elbow...on high heat!!

I have tried sitting out in shady areas and it's just too oppressive....so I now try to do a little weeding and watering first thing before the sun hits the back yard full force...and then go have a shower, put on as little as decently possible and head downstairs to do whatever. Chauncey now knows the best thing is to hang out with Mom as it's cooler for him.
We have a cool fan in the bedroom (cool being the operative word here)....it's reversible....you switch it to take out the hot air in the day and then change it to bring in the cool air at night. Works a treat!! In fact, next to the basement, our bedroom is one of the coolest places in the house. Regular fans are good, but they just move hot air around and although it feels good to some extent, after a while, one needs the coolness.

So..to add to the mix of all this heat, there is a forest fire burning merrily just south of Kamloops. Last night the sky was orange with the smoke....today is a bit cloudy, not sure if that's from the fire or just regular overcast. I'm thinking that staying in my little hidey hole in the basement and keeping cool is much the best policy at this point. DH is watching the World Cup game and I'm listening to Jacqueline Dupre play Haydn and Boccherini...so my day will be fine.....