Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Memories....

Thanks to my Dad I was brought up to appreciate many operatic tenor and baritone arias, one being the famous tenor aria "Che Celida Manina" or as my father translated it...."Thy Tiny Hand is Frozen". It's from La Boheme, one of my favourite operas. The version I grew up with was sung by Jussi Bjoerling, the famous Swedish tenor of bygone years. It remains my favourite to this day. My aunt was also a fan of said opera, aria and tenor...in fact she loved most opera.

Years ago, when I was living in Vancouver on my own, before England and marriage, I would frequently go to the opera with her. One time La Boheme was playing and we were excited to be able to attend. We sat there enraptured by the music and when the tenor aria approached, my aunt reached over and took my hand and held it throughout the entire aria, especially tightly during the climax of the aria (a top A I believe or something similar).

It's a special memory that resurfaced this morning when I was driving home from dropping DH at work.....that particular aria came on the radio and the lump in my throat became tears in my eyes by the time it finished. I've always loved that aria for the music and for the memories of my dad that it evoked, but now it also brings to mind my aunt.

Memories like that are golden......

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One cataract down.....

It's amazing how a community is formed in a hospital waiting room. Whilst waiting for my turn on the table, I met a couple from McLure, and at least three other ladies, all going for cataract surgery like me. I felt so much more at ease than I expected, so by the time I was in the operating room, I was almost relaxed. It also helped that the operation itself was only about 20 minutes including prep time etc....

I arrived at 7:30 am and hit the table at about 10 am and was out of the hospital by about 10:45.
Now it's all about drops, drops and more drops....a follow up appointment tomorrow morning at 8:30 am and then taking things a bit easier for a couple of weeks.

Nurses, doctors, fellow patients....all were very nice and made the experience so much easier than it could have been. That general feeling of camaraderie was prevelant throughout...maybe that's because of Kamloops' "small town" feeling.....something that is noticeable despite it's increasing size.

One down.....one to go at some point in the future.....distant future one hopes!!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creatively speaking......

I was rolling pastry for apple pies this morning (the best I've ever done I might add!!) and one tends to let the thoughts wander upon occasions such as this. So ...mine did. I was thinking about blogs, mine in particular and trying to get a feeling for what to write about.

My description of it is a search for creativity.....a journey to find what creatively I want to do....a constant problem with me it seems. My workshop is filled with a multitude of artwork, some of mine and some of members of my family (aunts and grandmother). I have a cupboard, shelves and drawers full of supplies...paint, clay, accessories, material, wool, etc etc.. .....which says to me that there are so many directions to go in. How does one choose...or does one combine them all in various and sundry combinations and see what emerges.....it's a quandary. I do admit that when I finally got down there to spend time puttering, it was glorious and I could have stayed down there much longer. The "little grey cells" started working again and ideas started rising to the surface.

The other side of my "creative personality" is writing.....I love writing when I can get my thoughts in order (not always happening!!). My mind is very fertile and if I could write everything down that goes through my head, it would fill pages I'm sure. I know when I am in a "sleepless in Kamloops" mode, the thoughts and stories that go through my head are amazing and I know I should try to get them down on paper or at least into the computer. I also journal a lot....on the computer ....in a number of books.....I would like to get them all centralized...a project for the future I expect. The late Frank McCourt said something to his creative writing class that stuck with me....it was that if one wants to write, then write….about anything and everything, just keep writing and writing and eventually you will find a pattern to what you are doing and will see the direction in which you are to go....at least that's the way I perceived what he wrote and it makes sense.

Of course there is always the music side of things, but that has a time line. One can only keep up the standard required for so long, then it's time to pass the torch onto someone else. I haven't reached that point yet.....but I hope I will know when it comes. Each year it gets more challenging to keep up the practice and energy required for each concert. However, I do so love playing in the orchestra....it gives me the opportunity to take part in the classical music that has been in my soul from day 1. The way my heart fills and expands when a certain phrase of music is played, it's positively amazing......I have been brought to tears whilst playing a performance...much to my consternation.....Sometimes when I'm listening to my CD's I just stand up, raise my arms and should "Yes...oh yes!!!" I move to music...any music...but classical hits my core.....and some parts of opera are breathstopping for me. So when the playing stops the listening will continue to the end of my days....

So....all in all my creative juices are still flowing, albeit somewhat erratically. I do believe I will ultimately find a direction to go in....and I need to take some time and write down a list of directions and projects and then sift through them and think about which is reality and which is fantasy. I also think that the way I approach the whole aspect of creativity needs looking into as well. Do I do it for myself, for money, for other people? I tend to think that doing it for myself is the primary goal....and if the rest come after that's ok. It's me that has to be satisfied and fulfilled before I can think any further. After all, if I'm not enjoying the process and the results of my labour....who else will?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

random thoughts.....what????

In my purse I keep blank index cards or sometimes a small diary to note down things that strike me or twig my interest where ever I may be. Today I was cleaning out my purse (a mammoth task to be sure) and I came across this list and have absolutely no idea what I was thinking.....

Screaming kids
Tight jeans
Sameness in wear
Buggy rolling

It occurs to me that I may have been feeling rather stressed and was noting down things that irritated me. I mean
...how loud were the screaming kids,why were they screaming, were the parents trying to calm them or just letting them have at it.....
..... what kind of conversations were being had and were they loud and obnoxious conversations or flighty and full of giggles..... or on the other hand..was someone attempting to converse with me?
Tight jeans is interesting....was I leering at a cute behind on a male (hardly likely!), or "tut-tutting" about how young people dress today...or maybe cheering for an older woman with a good physique who didn't mind showing it off!! (That's a stretch!!)
The sameness in wear is no doubt about young people I was observing, it's all about fitting in and what's fashionable....
.....and as for buggy rolling....stroller, baby buggy, grocery buggy....the possibilities are endless....and was it rolling towards a car, my car perhaps....or maybe there was a baby in the rolling buggy....and maybe that baby was screaming....and so we end up back at the beginning...:-)

So...making a list to remind oneself of what is observed is a great idea....if you can make some indication of date and time and place....but then....this list became an idea for a blog post...so maybe it has ultimately served it's purpose as I think the original idea of jotting things down was to make topics to write about.....which it has!!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Just another bit of inspiration from Real Simple.....one that really appeals to me...

“My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass.” ―Leslie Grimutter


Friday, June 26, 2009

After a break.....

On Tuesday of this week, we arrived home from a week long road trip through the Peace Country and visiting friends and family in Edmonton. It was interesting, eye-opening, relaxing, and in general a much needed break before summer.

I am, however, glad to be home again, mostly because of my garden and my cats......in that order!!
I still have basil to plant and there are weeds to pull and more seeds to plant, watering to do, the trimming of an "out of control" hops plant (although it does look kind of Mediterranean in style right now!!) and that's only the garden. The cats are healthy, but have been very demanding of attention since we got home....granted, they have had a few more weekends with us away than usual lately, so they are allowed.

DH wants to get going on wallpaper stripping which means I have to decide paint colours before too long....always a worriesome task....and then of course there is my workshop and studio to tackle.....

I also have been inspired (by the prolific collection of plants of my dear friend in Edmonton) to try to make my rather insipid collection of indoor greenery much more healthy and extensive...so we'll see how that goes!!

The good thing about all of this is that I really have nothing to get prepared for at this point...I can take my time and enjoy the process (hopefully) as summer (aside from visitors) is pretty much free.

So...here's to projects, visitors, wine on the patio, gardening (indoor and out) and pets (shedding and non-shedding)......


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Taking Stock....

We moved to Kamloops in December 2004.
At that time I was grossly overweight, suffering with fibromyalgia and arthritis (walking with a cane for the most part), high cholesterol and high blood pressure, stressed out and depressed and totally unsure of how this move was going to affect me.
Today is 4 1/2 years later. I am down fifty pounds and still losing slowly. My cholesterol and blood pressure is under control. I still suffer the effects of fibromyalgia, mostly the lack of sleep, but the pain managment is working without heavy meds. The arthritis is still progressing and will eventually lead to knee replacement, but it's manageable. The stress and depression still poke their heads up occasionally, but now I have various methods of dealing with them...no meds involved.

The reason all of this came to mind, was that I was in the garden this morning and when we were finished, DH looked around and said...".it's getting there"....and it occurred to me, that for the first time in many years, I have had a hand in "getting it there" Gardening, in fact any outdoor activity, has been absent from my days mainly because of the inability to "get around".
I now can bend easily, dig, pull weeds, plant seedlings and sit and repot seedlings.....in fact, I am slowly gaining back some of the joys of gardening that I experienced many years ago. I have found that my most productive times for anything is in the morning and late afternoon. I need the downtime after lunch to recoup energy....and so...it's all about realizing how my body works and how I can get the most out of my day. We have even been taking long walks on the river dike by the airport with the dog.....and I'm not afraid to use my two canes to take some of the weight off my knees. I'm also not afraid to say when I've had enough and I sit down on the bench and peruse the scenery whilst DH continues on with the dog.

Granted, I still have days filled with angst and depression and stress.....but I also have tools to deal with it, which I didn't have before. It never occurred to me to journal or pray, or even just cogitate to ease my troubled mind. Those are tools that I have begun to make use of to push back "the beast". The winter up here is not helpful if you are prone to less than happy thoughts. When it gets cold (and I mean cold) I'm motivated more to stay inside and hibernate....which can be a problem. I tend to read voraciously in the winter and explore my artistic side in my workshop....more tools.....although I have been known to indulge in some Harry Potter movies!!

I have to say that music....playing in the Kamloops Symphony and volunteering with that organization... has also been a bit of a saving grace for me. Music has always been one of my main avenues to go down in stressful times, and I've not only re-discovered and revelled in the challenges of an orchestral musician, but I have expanded my listening to include various and sundry classical CD's. I am also not adverse to other genres....I have been known to dance (albeit carefully!) between my studio and workshop with music blaring!!

Retirement has been a challenge for both DH and myself. When two people are together all the time there are a few things that become evident. Conversation tends to lapse.....it doesn't seem necessary. Sitting on the patio with a glass of Chardonnay engrossed in conversation with your spouse isn't reality....at least not for us. We're just as happy sitting with that aforementioned Chardonnay and a good book, exchanging humorous quotes and commenting about jobs to do in the garden. However I have learned that if there was something I definitely want to discuss, the time to do it is in the car....that way he's a captive audience and I'm not competing with a book for his attention. Routine is a huge factor, and one which I abhor. It sneaks up on you without you realizing it. I realize that some routine is necessary but it's not in my personality to do the same thing everyday at the same time....so the conflict is there and sometimes it gets quite funny. Occasionally I do things differently just to jump out of the rut...so to speak.

When we moved up here, we had to start the whole process of making new friends and acquaintances....as happens whenever you move. The move, because of our location (and a spare bedroom), has caused us (much to our delight!) to become a stopping point for friends going to and from Lower Mainland and of course our children (and spouses) also have spent time with us here. Both of my brothers are now in Kamloops, so family dinners are a regular occurrence.....and we have a good neighbourhood, with watchful and friendly neighbours (who DH sees on regular walks with dog).... and a few friends who I had thought disappeared have reappeared in my life and we are becoming reacquainted!! So the blend of old and new friends and family is working well.

I have no idea how long we will live here....I don't think we will spend the rest of our lives here....but for now....life in Kamloops is good, all things considered!!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Signs of Summer to come.....

I'm sitting on patio and thought that I would blog about signs I have noticed around that prove that summer is on it's way!! I'm doing this partially as a blog subject, but also because if I write it all down, I will feel somewhat more positive about life.
  • The market is up and running with some actual produce, albeit winter/root type produce, but produce nevertheless and it's locally grown....also it has many little new plants of veggies, herbs, flowers and there even is a lovely fellow who has all sorts of flowering bushes and oddities....I got some horseradish from him!! There is a lady selling huge tomatoes and English cucumbers and they are delicious.....she has a greenhouse in Barriere. There are also lamb, bison and beef producers and a interesting elderly Italian fellow who sells eggs. There are also fresh baked goods as well. So all in all....a good sign of things to come in that department.
  • Our last concert is coming up next week....and after that we're through (for full orchestra concerts) until the fall. It will be an awesome concert with The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky, Prokofieff 2nd piano concerto and The Art of Declension by Jeffrey Ryan. With this type of program, I tell people, it's not the notes that are difficult, it's where you put the notes that's difficult. Lots of different rhythms, speeds, volumes, and all in all a real challenge (which I embrace with great enthusiasm!!)
  • The perennial plants in our garden are starting to poke their heads through the ground and trying to make us guess if they have survivied the winter or not. I have a lavender plant that I thought had passed away, but when I looked this afternoon, I found small new buds all over it....I cheered!! I have a little leaf of hot and spicy oregano which is struggling to stay alive...we have protected it ....my lemon verbena did not survive so I have replaced it.... I have new basil starting in the basement to be transplanted when ready...especially the Stella basil, some which will go to it's namesake..:-)
  • We are slowly starting to make the patio "summer ready". I put the bamboo screens up today, actually sat and read and relaxed on the patio....my hops is growing wildly over the latticework and heading with great vigour towards the top lattice work, where it will create a shade cover for one end of the patio. DH has refilled the propane tank and readying it for dinner tonite and now I have to figure out what to do with my artwork on the patio table that got destroyed by weather. Oh....and our elderly (though they don't look it!) cats are loving the sun on the patio and rolling around completely not acting their age. Once the sun started coming out they wanted to be outside to sniff out the various and sundry prey (that they never actually manage to snag!!)
  • Of course a major sign of summer to come is blossoms....on the bushes, the trees, the strawberries, it's all beautiful!!
  • The yearly migration stop of the white capped sparrows descending upon our garden to pick up stray seeds, finish off the feeders and suet. They swarm in, stay for a couple of weeks and then they are off to the northern climes for nesting!!
Anyways, I think that's it for now....I'm sure there are other signs, like the magpies nesting in the fir trees (among other birds), garage sales, being able to leave the patio door open with the screen 'cause it's warm enough....and best of all, I can sit out here on the patio and do this blog in the warmth of the afternoon (it's all about having wireless you know??) !!


Friday, April 17, 2009


This is the third week that I have watched a new program called Spectacle hosted by Elvis Costello. I am just so impressed....
The first week, he had Sir Elton John, ( who is one of the producers of the show), last week, Sting and the Police, and tonight he had a "guitar pull" (A Johnny Cash phrase) with Kris Kristofferson, Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash and John Mellencamp.

The format is interview and music.....and the questions in the interview are not typical interviewer questions. They are asked from a fellow musician's point of view and some of the stories are great. With the Police, he interviewed them individually and then he brought them all out on stage for joint chat and performances. It was quite neat to see the different personalities.

It's an hour long, and quite frankly it leaves me asking for more. Tonight was a gem for me.....especially Kris Kristofferson singing "Sunday Morning Coming Down" ....unbelievable. They finished off the program with a group and solo singing of "Me and Bobby McGee".

Even though I'm a classically trained musician and that remains my first love, I also love listening to other kinds of music with some of the greats in rock, blues and jazz.

All in all a great program and a definite fixture on my Friday night line up.....and....apparently there are encore presentations on Bravo on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Sigh....I feel so good now.....:-)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Dinner...

After looking at the food photos that Ty has posted recently, I decided that it might be fun to do something similar.
Today for "Sunday dinner with the bros " (read brothers are coming to dinner tonite) I thought I would make a Beef Stew in my own inimitable style....and take one or two pictures to boot!!

I used Douglas Lake Beef Stew meat.....range fed and locally grown (so to speak) and pretty much most of the veggies I had in my fridge plus a varied combination of herbs and spices.
The veggies were onions, leeks, carrots, yams, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, green beans, orange peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, celery and butternut squash. My herbs were garlic, thyme, sage, savoury, hot pepper seeds and rosemary and my spices were cumin, garam masala, allspice, celery seed and cloves. For the most part the herbs and spices were ground up and pounded in my large mortar and pestle.....I have now put some beef broth in it and transferred it to the slow cooker to mull away until dinner time, at which point, I will probably add a wine and beef broth gravy to give it some bread sopping consistency :-). I am still debating whether to add some red potatoes......

This is the pot o' stew with just winter veg. and meat

Here it is after transfer to the slow cooker and with the other veggies added as well as the broth....

This is a collection of the various and sundry herbs and spices I used along with the mortar pestle, which, I might add, I picked up in Concord Mass. at a wonderful little housewares store that Ty told me about. I love using it...it's monstrously heavy, but works beautifully.

...and as a finale, my two cutting boards...made by me years ago....the man is for veggies and the woman is for bread and baked goods. I have another less interesting cutting board for meat products.

After previewing this post, I still think that Ty's pictures are more mouthwatering.....but it is a fun exercise to take pics at certain times throughout the cooking process......

OK, now it's time to go get showered and dressed....(It's been a VERY lazy Sunday....:-))


Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Winter ever end?????

I had to sign in to comment on Ty's blog, so I thought I would take the time and mosey on over to my blog and perhaps update it?? Yes, I think that would be a good thing, considering the last one was almost three months ago....yikes!!!

I'm not going to go over Christmas and New Years except to say it was all good and tasty and fun as it was meant to be.

We still have snow and are expecting more, but the sun's out and everything looks very fresh...even with the snow. However, sadly, the pumpkin that I left on the patio table to freeze has now thawed and is slowly sinking into mush. Time to scrape it up and chuck it on the garden to hopefully seed and grow more little pumpkies in the spring/summer/fall.

We are presently in the process of doing family history stuff and other extended family things.....exhausting work, but necessary. Hopefully it will all be sorted by the end of February.

I had some work in the Kamloops Art Gallery Christmas store and sold a fair bit.....encouraging to say the least. Now to continue on and improve.....I still have plans to start a blog of my work and will do so at some point. It's a good alternative to an actual website....so we'll see how things transpire.

I have a couple of other projects on the go....sewing a couple of lap quilts for my aunt, using some scarves of hers and some squares of Brazilian Embroidery that she has done and also editing some of her nature writings that she's done over the years and making a compilation for the family. It will take time, but it will be a labour of love.

My life right now is a myriad of events....and I'm not sure I like it like that. I keep getting the feeling that I want to just "be" .....not be anywhere in particular, doing anything in particular, just to "be". I know it sounds weird, but it's the only way I can think of to put it. I don't resent the demands made on my time, because I enjoy it all. I think that I mean .. I want to be in a place where I can do exactly what I want to do...with me making that decision. Selfish?? Maybe, but I think I'm allowed at this point in my life. It will happen....it's just that right now I'm just busy and feeling just a tad frustrated.

I'm finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning....I just want to sleep. In fact, unfortunately, this feeling is extending into the swimming that I do three times a week. It's getting harder to gather myself together to get out there. I do it, because in the end, I do feel better for it....but the effort it takes to overcome the inertia is really a bummer. I think it has something to do with the season....and how drastic the winter has been up until now. Sometimes I think I like hibernating indoors, but I forget how much I enjoy sitting on the patio in the summer, puttering in the garden or just standing outside and enjoying the experience of being outside. The winters up here are always tough to some degree, but this year has been harder....as I'm sure it has been elsewhere. Even my dog has been in more "funks" this winter....without his daily walk.

So, today the sun is out...and eaves are dripping as the snow melts, so maybe I just should go sit on the patio with a hoodie and a scarf and breathe in...before the next snowfall ......it so sounds like a plan!!

On that whiney note....I will bid farewell!!