Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas - New Recipes

Christmas – New Recipes
November 27, 2009

Hello from Arta.

Here is something new for Christmas, seen first at the Highwood Dining Room last Thursday. The Highwood (a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology run restaurant), train their students in the restaurant business. By some miracle, Wyona booked their Christmas buffet. The room was decorated with German nutcrackers on every table and seasonal music was piped into the room – a good starter for the Christmas season for us. One of the charms of the event is that the salad bar, the dessert bar and the entrĂ©e counter are all serviced with students who are experts, having created the very food they are serving for that day. I was interested in an artichoke stuffed with salmon-flavoured cream cheese that was sitting on a mirrored tray. Wyona loved the sauce on the pork, a reduction of beautifully mixed flavours.

The first order of the day was the waiter offering drinks from the bar. Water, we say, water for all of us, but we like to listen to what the bar is serving for the day and they like to practice offering their selections. Thursday the drink sounded so interesting, Wyona ordered the mocktail. We asked the server for its ingredients:

I. SAIT Mocktail

Equal parts cranberry juice, orange juice and pineapple juice
One splash of ginger ale
One squeeze of lemon juice

To be served in a beautiful glass with a seasonal straw and 3 floating cranberries.

Having most of the juices at home, I stopped by the Coop to pick up fresh cranberries. I am on my third round of days serving that drink at home – warning people that I prefer the floating cranberries in the drink to be decorative. I have also been floating cranberries in glasses of water. Why not? ‘Tis the season to be festive.

An orange-flavored, chocolate-dipped cheesecake lollipop was the piece de resistance at the buffet table. When I find a dessert that I want to imitate at home, I usually check with the student at the dessert bar who will tell me how to make the item I am asking about.

Last year I discovered that the raspberry coulis on the chocolate mousse was a flavor combination made in heaven. In the summertime of 2009, whenever I was picking raspberries, I was thinking about how to make them into a raspberry coulis to serve at Christmas on a Belgium chocolate mousse. I was usually eating the raspberries as I fast as I was picking them, and did not get enough of them frozen to get my coulis plan into action. But I think I am going to bring the lollipop to life this Christmas season.

II. Orange-flavored, Chocolate-dipped Cheesecake Lollipop


  • Create the filling for an orange flavoured cheesecake. The SAIT cook used the essence of orange as the flavoring. I was thinking she might have used an orange liqueur but she assured me that the brilliant flavor was oil of orange.

  • Freeze the filling.

  • When frozen, scoop the filling into a circle using a melon baller.

  • Insert a popsicle stick.

  • Dip the centre in melted chocolate to which has been added some butter. (I wouldn’t have thought of that addition, but the chocolate coating did not crack when I bit into it as a chocolate covered ice-cream from the Dairy Queen might. I haven’t figured out how much butter to add yet. The smoothness of the chocolate has to be something like a truffle, but a little firmer. )

Last night, when shopping at Winners, I found myself buying a melon baller that might be the right size for the orange-flavored, chocolate-dipped cheesecake lollipop that has been on my mind. Wyona said that she is going to create the cheesecake filling this week, before she goes to London on the 6th of December. I hope we aren’t both just dreaming.

I have been thinking about the method of coating the lollipop, fearing that the centre will slip off of the stick when I put it in the chocolate. I have concluded that I should place the product on a fork, immerse it in the chocolate/butter solution, slip the dipped lollipop off of the fork onto a wax-paper lined tray and refreeze it.

III. White Chocolate Lollipop with a burst of Salted Pistachios

Doral told me that his trip to Las Vegas involved food that was four times saltier than his regular fare at home. He wondered if all of that salt isn’t adding to the U.S. national weight problem. His talk of the saltiness of the food reminded me of another confection they have been serving at SAIT: a free-form lollipop which I find too salty.


With a spatula, make a dash of chocolate on wax paper and lay a stick into the chocolate. At the base of the free form (which looks something like a tulip petal, though probably 4 inches high), embed some crushed, salted pistachios.

I didn’t like the taste of the salty pistachios in the chocolate, but when shopping at Winners again last night, I came across some chocolate dipped pretzels and was reminded that mixing the saltiness of some food with chocolate is also an old and honoured Christmas confection.

Have fun in the kitchen.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shuswap Pictures


Not only did Grandpa & Grandma Pilling leave us wonderful place to bond, pot and enjoy each other, but also a stunning setting for photography. These are some of the best ones I have taken while on the property during different seasons of the year. Share your own pictures as well.

All I ask is that if you share my pictures with other people that you give me credit and all the money. :)


PS. Now that I look at the pictures, I seem to be obsessed with the same view.

November Snow Falls Turn to Ice

November 28, 2009

Hello from Arta,

I was trapped yesterday.

Trapped Friday, really, for the snow began to fall when I was at Penbrooke. I was standing at the window, taping the pane for painting, and I noticed, not only the beautiful flakes falling onto the road, but I saw the black car tire tracks on the white road, weaving through what was else, a winter wonderland -- white everywhere.

An hour later, I noticed there was a two block line-up going to the traffic light at Penbrooke and Memorial, the line up reaching now to right in front of my house. The cars were moving so slowly, I called Dave Wood to come and watch at the window.

When I began to hear the screaming of wheels rotating in the snow and going nowhere, and saw trucks and cars sliding sideways, but not going forward, I could also hear Dave internally coaching them, whispering out loud, "Take your foot off the gas ... you are going to ruin your axel ... are you crazy, man? Slowly, slowly, not all of that power."

The snowfall’s aftermath has been documented in the news.. I knew not to try to go home, and had prepared myself to be snowed into Trell’s house for the night. Wyona called me to say that she slid into a car while going up a hill – and not to dare venture out on the road. There was a 30 car pile-up on Edmonton Trail. Richard and Miranda said they saw 36 cars had been abandoned by their owners on John Laurie and were still there the next day. Ron Treleaven said that at the top of Silver Springs road he saw a bus slip sideways down that hill, taking with it two lanes of traffic, all 12 cars that were behind him, 6 in each line, shoving all 12 of them into each other.

I stayed put. A simple storm -- a lot of snow and hovering at zero turned the roads into ice, something that we drive in only once or twice a year in Calgary.

David had helped me all day. He installed the dishwasher, the stove, got the fridge in place and did electrical work, putting three electrical lights in for me – downstairs.

David and I took a trip to Home Depot during the day. Shopping for renovating wire, light ballasts and electrical tape is something like shopping for groceries.

Even with a list, it is hard to get home without having missed just two other things that are needed.


The Pergo Floor

The New Pergo Floor
November 24, 2009

Glen drove in from Annis Bay to lay a Pergo floor in my Penbrooke kitchen this weekend.

As well, Laynie, Glen and I worked together Saturday, which is the equivalent of 3 days work for me. Maybe the equivalent of five days work for me, for both of them work as though they are two people.

Glen explained to both Laynie and me that getting the right tool for the job makes a difference. For example, there is a specialized screw driver that will lift staples. Using that tool is much easier than using long nosed pliers to pull up the bits of foam that are still held on the floor with a staple long after the carpet is removed.

Glen gave me advice through the day. “Let the job do the tool, but taking care that you have the right tool. Treat the tool with respect. If that is not the job for that tool, don’t force it to do work it can’t or you will end up with a broken tool and the job still not done. Lift a nail out of the floor with two hammers, using the claw end of one to get underneath of the nail. Here, hold this end of the tape measure. Do you know what that end is called. The dumb end.”

Most of the tools in the house have the name Richard on them. That is cool for Richard. Richard is a brand name on just about every tool in the house. When I buy a name-branded Richard tool, I scrape off the logo and felt-pen my name in the place I have scratched.

My favorite tool is the Richard’s Metal Retractable Scrapper. I should have known about this tool 30 years ago: it cleans off paint, scraps off dirt, and eliminates calcium deposits with just one stroke. The Metal Retractable Scrapper can cut black mold out of places that a screw driver or an chisel can’t reach.

Today, a week later, I am going to Home Depot to buy my own finishing nails for floor boards and a nail tap.

I am alerting everyone this year. I want tools for Christmas.

Please buy tools to put in the Christmas game. I will choose which one I want most to take home.



Meighan's Party, Part II

Hello from Arta,

Meighan had a two part party: her friends from 1 pm to 5 pm and her relatives from 5 pm to 9 pm. Zach, Gabe and Audra got to go to both parts, being both friends and relatives.

Meighan is five now. Taller than other kids her age in her kindergarden, Anita told me.


Maybe like Rebecca Rose Jarvis.

I noticed that the birthday party invitation that was mailed to me had the image of Hannah Montana on it. Ron Treleaven who was watching Audra while Marcia and Art slipped out for a minute, told me that one of the hard things about getting older is not knowing all of the pop culture that kids are immersed in.

I agreed with him, as Hannah Montana is not a by-word for me, either. She is an icon who is a regular girl by day and a rock star by night. Both Ron and I have now been introduced to her at the party through the party table cloth, party napkins, plates – all matching, bejeweled necklaces – bling everywhere.

I know the Hannah Montana image and was wondering if Richard and Miranda are thinking of naming their new baby after her. They said that Hannah Montana is not even in the running for a name …yet.

On the family room wall was a large poster brought home from kindergarten, a print-out celebrating her birthday at school. Meighan had written her own answer to the questions about what was her favorite colour, her favorite food. I could make out that purple is her favorite colour, that spaghetti is her favorite food and that she is getting more than half of her alphabet letters going the right way – pretty fun for me to.

Doral told me that Meighan’s clothing ensemble for her party was her choice. To begin with, Meighan told her dad she didn't want a bath in the morning -- too afraid that she wouldn't be allowed to rewear the clothes she presently had on. He promised her that was not true, but then took her jogging pants and ditched them somewhere else after the bath, helping her get dressed in her pink party dress.

She remembered, though, and went to find the comfortable blue sweats with a white stripe going down the pant leg that he had slipped away elsewhere – no, it didn’t match and Anita said her only consolation if someone were to ask about the party outfit was to be able to say that Doral had helped Meighan get dressed.

Meighan also wore a pink tiara, a gift to her when she went on a site visit to the Banff Spring’s Hotel with her mother last week. She had been given the tiara and told she was a princess and that the Hotel was her castle, an idea that is really working for her. Know any other Alberta princess who has actually been to her own castle … and has a tiara to prove it?

The birthday cake was split – half chocolate, half white and was meant for the adults. Mini-cupcakes had been created by Anita, thinking that the little girls would love the spectacular array of diverse icing and decorations.

When I got to the birthday date, Doral told me that the earlier and younger party guests wanted the “adult cake” so now the adults had to eat the mini-cupcakes.

Miranda and I were up to the task. I began my meal with dessert.

Miranda was ending her meal with dessert, so I asked her which were the best choices on the tray. Miranda pointed to a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing topped with colorful animal candy confetti as her #1 choice.

I began with that one, and ended six cupcakes later, topping Miranda’s max-out of 5 which she knew to be an accurate number, given all of the cupcake wrappers on her plate belonged to her.

Meighan showed me some of the karate moves she has learned in her Saturday lessons, the sequence ending with one of those small bows. How cute was that – watching her take that squat stance to begin her demo, listening to her say the moves as she made them, her arms jabbing through the air.

I am invited to another demonstration of karate moves on December 16th when her school as a competition. Perhaps that will get posted up here on the blog.

Gabe and Zach are also in an event, December 13, a Boy’s Choir Event. I asked Zach if he has any new songs, and Marcia piped up, “They have a new one. What is it called. Lonely night? Quiet night.”

Zach said, “I don’t know it yet, but it is called Silent Night.”

Nice I thought. A new song … for him.

I had a lovely evening.

Happy birthday, Meighan.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Meighan's Birthday, Part I

Here is Meighan and her friends, celebrating Meighan's 5th Birthday. The girls colored for about 1/2 hour, then dressed up as rock stars, complete with star glasses and flapper costumes.

They are currently enjoying some snacks, like chips, veggies, and pop, with chicken nuggets and hot dogs still to come.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back From Las Vegas

I have returned from the land of gambling, smoking, boozing and such.

The hotel I stayed at, the Mandalay Bay Resort, is the last building on the right.

More on my exciting trip to Las Vegas shortly!

I was told by one of the hotel employees that, after Catholics, the next largest religious group in Las Vegas is Mormons.

- Doral

Mary's First Blog

So I have been reading all the posts and waiting for something exciting to happen me that I could post about.

I am still waiting for something exciting to happen, but am tired of not posting anything.

Our family now includes 3 kids and a dog. For the past year I have been thinking, if I can just make it through the next week, then I will find some time to get organized and on top of things and our lives will be less insane.

This week I had a moment of clarity.

I realised that maybe this is the way my life is going to be for the next few years and I should just relax and accept that. I must admit, my level of stress about everything has dropped a few notches now that my expectations of ever "getting it together" have been vaporized.

I have this idea that there are some people out there who have it together. I am probably wrong. If you actually are one of those people who do have it all together, please keep that information to yourself. I don't need to know.

Love to all of you out there reading.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A novice with an old telephone

A Notice uses the keypad on a telephone
November 22, 2009

Am I the last person in the world to learn to use a cell phone? I mean, to really learn how to use a cell phone? I can open a phone, type in a telephone number and send it, but that is the extent of my knowledge about the cell phone until today.

My new cell phone is Connor Pilling’s old cell phone now – the trickle down effect made an upgrade for him also an upgrade for me. Glen and I took the SIM card from the phone I ruined with a good clean wash, inserted it into Connor’s old phone, and I was good to go – except the used phone does not come with an instruction book.

I asked David if he could just tell me three new pieces of information about the phone and I also asked him if he could do that for five nights in a row. That way, I thought, I could retain enough information to make using this phone easy. I warned David about the learning process – any piece of information may have to be given 3 times before it sticks in the student’s head. He said he could deal with that.

I wrote in my note book and I also listened carefully as David taught me to turn up the volume on the ring, how to enter names into the telephone directory, how to delete old messages about how much money is still on my phone, how to delete texting that goes astray, how to take pictures (though I have no idea how to get them off of the phone), and how to use a small silver key as a mirror, should I want to take a picture of myself..

Half way through my evening practise, I wanted to know how to auto-enter words that I could half type and that were then presented on the screen to me. David and I couldn’t find out the answer, but I did notice for the first time, that he was holding the phone in one hand and texting with the thumb of the same hand.

“How cool is that,” I said. Yes. David agreed and he said that besides that, everyone does it that way. The rest of this evening I have been practicing thumbing my way around the keys so that I look assured and confident when I flip open the phone. I don’t want to be holding the phone in one hand and poking around on it with the other if the rest of the world isn’t doing it that way.

That is what I did for most of the rest of the evening. The other part of the night was spent in the kitchen because I passed through at 9 pm and saw the master’s degree engineering student beginning to make sushi. All of the ingredients were on the counter and on his computer he was running a video, “How to make sushi”.

Don’t you know how to do this? And you are still doing it? I was laughing so hard inside! I stayed in the kitchen to show him (and also them, for the other guys gathered around) how to make outside and inside sushi rolls: some shrimp, some salmon, some vegetarian.

Who would know to keep their hands wet while pressing the rice onto the seaweed. Or to wet the end of the seaweed for a better seal. And how about leaving a bit of space at the far end to allow the rice some degree of latitude to move as one rolls the seaweed. I couldn't remember, myself, how to do the outside roll. Do I really put the rice on the bamboo mat to roll it, I thought? I had a 30 second delay on that one. Then I remembered that saran wrap has multiple purposes. Keeping a layer of it between the bamboo and the rice worked for me.

Kelvin had a late night snack of sushi – my reward from Ed for helping him get going on his shushi making instead of spending the evening on a how-to-video. I have to say, I love those internet videos and am going to find one on how to carve a turkey, since I am starting to buy the $.99 a pound ones that are appearing in the grocery store ads.

Thanks for that real lesson at the lake on how to make sushi, Rebecca.



Line-ups for the H1N1 shot

Joy in the H1N1 Shot
November 22, 2009

To beat the rush of people getting the flu shot this morning, I got over to the Brentwood Calgary Health Region H1N1 vaccination clinic at 8:30 am. The parking lot had four packed rows of cars, not four cars, but four packed rows of parked cars -- my clue that I wasn’t going to be the only one in line at the start of the day.

Why weren’t all of these people in church where they are supposed to be, I thought.

Would you believe that the inside line up for the flu clinic was two rows deep going toward the Safeway, and at the T-angle where the clinic is, there were another two rows deep of people going down the centre of the mall towards the Tim Horton’s shop. As well, a third overflow line went down the hall where a dressmaker has a shop. There were health care workers or hired security at the front of end of every line, showing people which line they were to go to next, others handing out clipboards and pens and telling everyone to be prepared to have their Alberta Health Card number checked at the front of the line. The man who was walking into the building in front of me said to one of the security people guarding the row against line-jumpers, “This line-up is too long for me.” That gave me a chance to get in front of at least one person. I said to him later – aren’t you happy this morning – seeing your tax dollar at work for you here.

The truth is, that all told, I took only an hour from the time I left home until I got back home, and that included the 15 minute waiting period after the shot and a long visit with the public health nurse who was so deft with the needle that I felt nothing. When I congratulated her on the quick shot she said, “Well you are good as well. No blood, though I can give you a band aid if you want."

I declined.

I told her that the line-up was so interesting – the real face of Canada. The shaven, the unshaven, the tall, the short, the young woman whose hair was beautifully coiffed, the old man still in his bedroom slippers, white and every other skin color, people listening to their I-Pods, others on their cell phones, some reading this morning’s Financial Post, the Sun, others with the Calgary Herald in front of their faces, some only staring blankly ahead, children sitting on the floor, pacified with a juice box, still rubbing their little shoulders where they had received the shot. The nurse said to me, "Not only the real face of Canada, but the sense of community that is here never stops. Yesterday an older man whose wife had just died, was helping a young mother who was alone with many little children. Her littlest one was inconsolable and he stepped up to help her with the baby."

“Have you had your ten-year tetanus and diphtheria shot?”, she asked me, when I asked her where I was to go to get the regular seasonal flu vaccine. “You can remember if you had that?” she questioned. I looked her in the eye and said, “Many people my age can’t remember what they ate for breakfast. I do remember breakfast, but I don’t remember when I got that shot. I keep good health files. I could go home and look it up.”

"The reason I am asking you is ...” she said, “if you will phone the Ranchlands Health Clinic and make an appointment to get the diphtheria/tetnus shot, they will also give you the flu shot at the same time, though they won’t make appointments for the flu shot alone.”

Kelvin went to get his shot a few days ago. They line-jumped him right from the back of the line to the front. How nice was that for him?

Anyone else out there in the line-ups for the H1N1 flu shot yet?


Saturday, November 21, 2009

King Singer's Rendez-vous

The Kings Singers - Deck the HallImage by Jacob Whittaker via Flickr

Hi All,

Thanks for the invite, I am glad to be here. I have conceded to the blogger world. My first post is.....

I went to see the King Singer's last night at Cadogan Hall. I purchased three tickets, one for Greg, myself and a relative who may have been in town. The relative left so I had one extra ticket. I made it to the hall 45 minutes early, asked the ticket agents if the concert was sold out and they said no. After my shock receded, I returned outside and stood there waiting to sell my ticket. I felt like one of those sketchy people who linger outside concerts with a stack of tickets, trying to hoc them, the purchasher not knowing if the item is authentic or not. Putting on my kindest smile I began asking those approaching, with sweetness in my voice, if they were looking for a ticket. Those walking alone were even more of a target. I had been outside kindly attacking people when a taller, blonde man approached. I took no time to ask, 'Sir, are you looking for a ticket to the concert because I have an extra one.' 'Well, I am going in,' he replied 'but...' 'I paid 23 pounds for it but I will sell it to you for 20.' 'Well, that's nice but...' 'You are one of the Singer's aren't you?' I asked in horror. 'Yes I am.' 'Oh, I am so embarrassed. What is your name?' I ask blushing. 'My name is Chris.' We chatted a bit, then he went in.

The concert was wonderful and they premiered a new piece that included 18 songs, all about the Virgin Mary from different cultures throughout the ages. None of their fun songs were sung but they were still fabulous.

The momentus day I tried to sell one of the King Singer's a ticket to his own concert. :)

PS. I never did sell the ticket and used the seat as a purse / coat rack.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anticipating Cut and Click Laminate

Anticipating Cut and Click Laminate
Friday, November 20, 2009

In bed by ten pm and up by three am – ostensibly to check if my alarm has missed going off. I don’t want to be late. I am meeting Glen at 7 am to begin laying Honey Oak kitchen flooring, delivered to the middle of the front room floor by Richard last night.

“I have never done this before, so I will need a couple of hours Fridayh morning to think out how to do it,” Glen said on the phone to me last week.

Wyona translated Glen’s sentence for me yesterday as she and I were painting the cupboards. “Two hours of thinking for him? He will sort out the puzzles in 20 minutes and then get going on the project. He is not one to spend time over-thinking. He gets into action and thinks as he goes.”

I was telling Wyona that the up-side of renovations for me is that I can squat, reach, bend, twist, and crawl into spaces into which I didn't think I could ever fit. I can find the tool to open tight lids of paint cans, connect the hand drill to its battery when it has no more juice, pour products from large containers into small manageable ones, and wipe up spills on floors, and see blotches on walls that need just a bit more paint.

Home Depot is my best friend and I have my own credit card for that store. I have learned how long isle 23 of a big box store really is. As well I shop Quality Paints, never believing before that their selection of cutting brushes and paint rollers would have such fascination for me. Last night I thought to myself … time for me to get an extension to put onto the handle of this paint roller so that I can reach into the deepest of cupboard corner. You know the place – way back there where even if I am laying inside the cupboard, my feet stretched behind me on the floor and my arm reaching out as far as I can to the 2-point connecting spot of 2 walls, that spot where I just can’t reach. I talk myself out of the purchase, saying, no other person in the world is going to get back in here and notice this isn’t painted. Still, when I am at Quality Paints, I will probably be asking the clerk to show me that extension.

I was musing yesterday, wondering if I will ever go into a Home Sense or Linen and Things and shop for dishes again. That possibility is remote given my new interest. When I picked up Wyona yesterday I was looking at her kitchen cupboards, the grain in the wooden doors, and remarking to her – never let anyone paint these. The wood grain has such charm. She said, “I will show you what needs to be done”, and then she proceeded to show me the skylight that needs attention, baseboards that need to be lowered, for carpet has been pulled out, but the boards left at their original spot – leaving a gap to the floor – all things I have never noticed when I have been at her house but that now leap out at me. Maybe she and I will cooperate with shared renovations. She surely started the shared work by picking up the brush and helping me yesterday.

Yes. A life of retirement, figuring out which hobby to take up... and which one to lay down.

I was watching Tim Oldham put a puzzle together a few days ago, while he was waiting for Lurene to get back from picking up pizza. I don’t do puzzles. I do like to watch the faces of people who are doing puzzles. So I was hanging out at the table, just watching. Wyona told me that they said to Zoe a few days ago, “Come and help with the puzzle.”

“No, “she said.

“It will be fun. Come over and help.”

“No,” again from her.

“Think of all of the puzzles you have done. We need you,” they said, renewing their invitation to her.

Zoe made them laugh when she ended the conversation with, “I have retired from puzzles.”

So … three of us in retirement now.

Wyona. Me. And Zoe ... from puzzles.

Slipping back to bed now, so that I can get up in an hour and begin to enjoy another day of volunatary retirement.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hello All! Thank you for the invitation, Doral. I am excited to read family news and thoughts.

I was impressed this summer by Catie's love for the Beatles, so I signed up for the Beatles-Rock-Band-a-Thon at work next week. Hopefully I learn a few tunes and can sing in harmony with Catie next summer. 

Love to you all!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Off To Las Vegas

I'll be away for a week. Going to Las Vegas for work.

- Doral

Hello All, a little news to add to Miranda's

Hi all! Wow this is a great way to keep in touch with extended family. I really miss that I don't see you all as much as I did when I used to spend whole summer out at the lake.

Brandon and I are doing very well. Our lives are extremely busy right now and about to get a whole lot buisier. For those of you who might not know we are having a baby boy at the end of March. We are super excited about that. We are both working. Brandon is a structural engineer working in the marine field and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and I am at a small engineering firm doing marine mechanical engineering. We just got new callings in our ward here in Bremerton. We are now early morning seminary teachers. We are really excited about it but also nervous about planning lessons everyday and getting to our 6 in the morning classes everyday. It will be interesting. We are attending next week to get a feel of how the class goes and then start on Nov. 30. CRAZY! It will be interesting to see what happens when this baby comes.

Well.... this photo (the cherry tree in the back yard last spring) is the OPPOSITE of things right now (the leaves are down and the rains have come), but it is how I FEEL. a world of new growth and wonder!!!!

I speak, of course, of the renovation. We knocked out the dining room wall, put in glass sliding doors, and built a deck (16' by 20')! We also copied Glen and Janet, and stuck a hot-tub in the back yard.

It is getting used by the whole family, especially at night (it has lights inside that change colours.... a nice '70s effect... all we are missing now is the disco ball underneath the deck to complete the look).

The view from the hot tub will never match the view from Glen and Janet's, but I will admit that it is still pretty nice sitting in the hot water at night, looking up at the stars (on those rare occasions in victoria when the cloud lift enough for us to SEE the stars)

so... stay tuned for a photo of our new spring growth (to the house)


Norse Paganism

Norse Pagan Gods
November 18, 2009

Trell and I have snippets of conversation during the day – yesterday about polygamy for some reason. Well, I guess the reason might be that residually it is on my mind as I go over what I hear at the Victoria Polygamy Workshop. So I am the driver on that topic. What was going through my mind to start with was a former newly-wed grief I used to have. The solution for me was begging Kelvin, “Promise me that you won’t marry another woman for eternity”. The sorrow for me was in him replying, “I can’t make that promise for I don’t know what God will ask me to do.”

I would cry and cry. I have always not liked it when God trumps me.

At any rate, I was sharing with Trell the social horror we have of the Islamic belief that if you give your life for God, there will be 7 virgins waiting on the other side for you. I was telling him the Mormon belief does not limit a person to seven women for I don’t see a cap on the question of how many polygamous wives a person can have.

He laughed and we began to talk about religion. He was saying that time immemorial there has been in every religion the idea – this religion may not be right, but what if it is? Then you will be in trouble for not following it. Thus Kelvin’s reluctance to make that promise to me.

I don’t know how we segued from those ideas to Trell’s own religions practice, Norse paganism.

“Do you believe that?”, asked.

“Religion is not about belief, for me,” he said, “but it is about being in the community of my friends. There are no harms in their practice. I will leave it at that.”

When I asked him to tell me more he said, “Well, I really can’t for you are not in the community of believers.”

I laughed again for all religious practice has so much in common, even with all of its differences.

Of course, I always want to know more. So he told me that in the Norse mythology there are no Gods, only people who are superhuman, or who have distinguished themselves in ways that the ordinary human has not. I have to say that though I have name recognition of Thor and Odin, and I don’t know much about them, so I slipped out to the font of all knowledge, all earthly knowledge, Wikipedia, this morning to learn a bit more.

When I asked about the practice of his friends, he said that they sit around and share the stories of their own present, the exploits of their recent ancestors and the exploits of their ancient ancestors. When I asked whatever he might share he said, for example, when I want tell the Ivan/Loran story about the pocket knife under the hat and the race in the field to retrieve it, I am telling a story about lust for something a person doesn’t own. And sometimes I share stories about B.F. Johnson, stories about people giving up everything to eke out a living in a desert.

There is more for me to learn about the practice of Norse paganism. I hope Trell passes through my environment again today.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Chinook Wind Blows

A Chinook Wind Blows
November 17, 2009

In the Penbrooke back yard, I watched the wind in the grass today. The weatherman gave a wind warning of 100 mph in southern Alberta. I don’t know how fast the wind was going in Calgary, but I watched the tufts of the fall’s uncut lawn undulate under its power. The clumps of green grass on the lawn are uneven, some four inches high, some six, some bordering eight inches high and they were weaving their way in and out and through each other in the breeze. Flattened into one another, actually, by the gusts. When the wind hit the garage it changed direction from going east to moving north and its abrupt right-angle turn at that point was fascinating me. “Easy,” said Trell, “when the wind hits the garage it must turn and has no place to go but north. You are seeing the grass make the same movement the wind is making.”

“Beautiful,” I said.

“Trust you to find something charming about all of this,” said Trell, for shingles were randomly falling from the roof of the house. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I will pick those up when the wind quits.”

Tonight as I was ready to leave he said, “Arta, that wind you were admiring this afternoon has blown over part of your fence on the south side of the house.”

Oh well. Still beautiful.

As I painted cupboards today, I was remembering a course I took one year on different ways to paint the inside walls of a house. The university had extension courses for everything. I had been thinking about all of the tips that the instructor gave for he had us doing sample projects for two 8 hour days. That means, he had a chance to give many suggestions. To clean a brush so that you can load it up with a new colour, he said, wash the paint out of the brush and then roll the handle of the brush back and forth between your hands, letting the power of the roll cast the excess water out of the newly cleaned brush. This is best done outside, I remembered.

A tip that wasn’t given in the class is to turn off the power drill before lifting the stirring mechanism out of the paint. I do have a good sense of that when I am whipping cream. Ninety-nine percent of the time I turn off the mix master before raising the beaters out of the mixing bowl. Today, I figured out that the skill of turning off a mix master can be transferred to turning off the drill before lifting it out of the paint as well.


Of Creatures and Candy

I thought you might enjoy seeing the six creatures that went trick or treating in Montreal with us this Halloween. The wizard, ladybug, dragon, jester, rainbow, and unicorn had a great time. The candy has all but disappeared.
FYI - My children announced to me on Halloween night that 9/10 parents steal candy from their children's Halloween stash. I confess to being part of the majority.


I have been tardy in sending invitations to the rest of the family. I intended to do so last night, but got busy with Ceilidh's homework, then reading to Meighan, then doing some reading of my own.

I leave for a week in Las Vegas early thursday morning, so if I don't get it done before then, I won't have a chance 'til after Nov 26.

I will try to send the other invites before I leave.

- Doral

Update: I have sent invitations to the following people, in addition to the ones identified in this post:

Steve Carter, Lurene and Tim, Marcia and Art, David Pilling, Desiree, Curtis and Sarah, Trent and Jamie, Tonia, Layne, Connor, Cheri and Teague.

I am sure I am missing some emails (Dan?), so if there is anyone else that I have missed, first, please accept my apologies! Second, someone please get me their emails so I can send them an invite!

- Doral

Cell Phones

Cell Phones
November 17th, 2009

I am among the last to see that I might need a cell phone. Kelvin has one, but that is about safety issues for him. My land line works for me … except when I need a phone now that I am at Penbrooke every day. I have been taking his phone with me and you will see later why there is no use giving you the number of that phone. For instance, a novice cell phone user has so much to learn: take the fact that the cell phone actually has to be turned on during the day. That was my first lesson.

I think land line trumps cell phone, all of that fumbling to get the phone out of one’s purse when it rings in a shopping mall, or retrieving the phone from a deep jean pocket while driving … or even something as simple as learning to talk and drive at the same time. Tough stuff for someone who likes both hands on the wheel.

And the menu system? I am told that young kids who have lots of video experience, intuit menus and screens, how to get in and out of them. I have been practicing that as well, sometimes finding myself in an eternal loop – on a simple cell phone. Taking Kelvin’s phone along with me each day seemed like a good idea, given that he was near a landline and could, at the very least, phone me with a list of items he might want me to buy on the way home at night.

After learning all of the lessons above, still, last night I failed on one the important lessons about cell phones: remove it from your pocket before the jeans are tossed in the washing machine. Retrieving the phone when the wash is half done does not count.

Looking forward to a new day, and I have already contacted Glen to see if that old cell phone he offered me is still available.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Flying Disks and Sweeny Todd

Flying Disks and Sweeny Todd, Nov 15, 2009

Last month, Glen showed me how to use David Wood’s square sander to rough up the edges of the kitchen cupboard doors. The sander failed on me, broke about half way through the job, so I rented one from Home Depot today, a round one. The clerk sold me sand paper disks and gave me a lesson on how to attach them to the main unit, even putting the first one on for me. The disk and the main unit velcro together. No folding, cutting and clamping the sandpaper any more. How easy can that be!

The bonus is that if I finished the job in 4 hours the cost would only be $8 instead of t$12 for a 24 hour rental. Being timed, I didn’t loose a moment but began to sand right away, disappointed when I ran my hand over the surface and I found could not get any results with that sander. No results at all. I turned it over to see if the holes on the sandpaper and sander had been perfectly lined up, as the clerk told me to do, finding instead that he had taken the sandpaper off and slipped it back into the package of four that I was buying. The sanding went smoothly after I got the sand paper attached to the sander … for about 8 more cupboard doors.

I was enjoying the sky as I was working, watching the most beautiful Chinook I have ever seen. The arch in the sky was at least ¾ of the way up and the Chinook wind was pushing black and darkening cumulous clouds directly to the south and the north. I tried to think of words to describe the edges of the cloud that were being pushed back, for they were rolling over one another, layered with depth, differing hues of back and grey, marshmallow like. I was contemplating stretching my arms straight out so see if I would get the diameter of a circle pointing to both edges of the Chinook. But still sanding I didn’t try my experiment.

A sudden jerk and I grabbed tighter to the sander. At the same time I saw the disk on the bottom of the sander spin off the unit, Mary-Poppins-like, shoot upward over the fence, over the telephone poles, spinning in the Chinook wind high over the rooves and landing somewhere on the road beyond, a fence hiding my view of its touch-down.

Curiosity got the best of me. I put down the sander and went to find the flying unit – a good thing for the bottom of the sander had gone with the sandpaper. The charm of learning about house renovations: multiple trips to Home Depot, a trade in for a new sander, learning about the vagaries of rental equipment, the possibility of get an extension on a “4 hours for $8” contract, all wrapped up in one package.

Richard joined me at Penbrooke, doing electrical work. He said that the highlight of his day was with a fluorescent fixture downstairs. When he removed it he saw that it had been piggy backed onto another recessed ceiling light with a coat-hanger. “Coat hangers have a variety of purposes, but this probably isn’t a good one,” he remarked, shaking is head. He has been replacing all of the light fixtures upstairs, and last month, when Trell saw that four relatively new units were coming down, he suggested that they go to the basement, into his rooms. Richard was on an electronic roll for me yesterday, but when he went to make the replacement for Trell an old fear surface in Trell, the fear of a job started and not going to be finished, the fear of living for two to five years in a construction zone, he said. Articulating that conclusion took 3 of us five minutes, a parting of company, then two of us some breathing space, added to which was another 10 minutes of talking, with only one of us understanding the “other’s” side of the picture. Deep seated fears had explode in Trell and it was impossible for me to know where his eruption came from without the dialogue. And still, I am left not knowing all.

I stopped by Wyona’s to fill out Zoe’s timesheet on the way home. Tim and Lurene were there, Tim doing a crossword puzzle and Lurene off getting pizza -- their first day of rest since June when they began practicing with the Victor Mitchell Theatre’s production of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Tim played the trombone in the pit, Lurene sang in the chorus, Charise helped backstage.

I saw SweenyTodd from the second balcony of the Jubilee about five years ago. Friday night Wyona and I had our seats in the stalls, front and centre. Lurene had alerted Wyona about the mad scene in Fogg’s Asylum because the chorus had all been told to create their own characters who might have been in such a place in the late 1800’s. Zoe’s involuntary hand movements were on stage, mimed through Lurene, exquisitely patterned. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Lurene: an actress, a singer, a trombonist. Wyona added later about Lurene, that she has been asked to play in the pit for the Mitchell’s January production of Hello Dolly. Too bad she has to have a day job as well, for her life might be perfect if she could only live her night work.

We talked for a while about the production last night as we ate pizza. I told Wyona that though she and I have been seeing the highest quality of the world’s musical’s in London, there was something so vibrant and alive about this production that I would have to put it on par with our other experiences as far as audience enjoyment for me is concerned. I have always been charmed by the less sophisticated performances, in sports as well. I would take a high school basketball game over the MBA anytime.

Friday, the performance by Judge Turpin was so disturbingly licentious and evil that there was something inside of me wanting to call the police. Lurene and I agreed that his performance had been so good that no one even refers to it when citing who did a good job on stage. Jail him, or in this case – get in him the barber’s chair. As well, I told Lurene that the rape scene had been choreographed so as to reveal nothing and at the same time, everything. She said that she didn’t like being in the chorus every night at that point, having to watch on stage, be part of the crowd that gathered near. How is that for performance doing its job -- creating the loathing and disgust Stephen Sondheim intends with music, creating that even in those on stage? How is that for great art?

On a happier note, there were meat pies, every night, to be eaten by the actors, meat pies from SAIT. Lurene said when we went to the Hywood Lunch Buffet last week, “Look, I am even eating the crumbs from my plate in real life, just as I do in the performance as we sing, ‘God That’s Good”.

The last night of the performance everyone had to stay to take the set down, so even the guys in the pit got to try the barber’s chair, the one that shoots people out and down a slide into Mrs. Lovett’s meat grinder and oven. Only one of the musicians was injured as he came down the shoot Saturday night – oh my gosh, life is funny.

The sunrise is at 7:55 today. I have another hour and 10 minutes before that part of my day begins. Hello to everyone on my first try blogging.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Karate Kids

Dalton, Ceilidh and Meighan are all enrolled in Karate. Dalton and Ceilidh are currently in Orange Belt, and Meighan is in White Belt. We've got them going three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Here's the three Karate Kids striking a Charlie's Angels pose.

- Doral

Friday, November 13, 2009

Invitations To Join And Banner Photo

Invitations have been sent to several people regarding joining this Blog, but I would like to do so for others who would be interested in reading or participating. Here are the invitations that have been sent so far:

Woods: Moiya
Pillings: Glen, Janet
Johnsons: Kelvin Sr, Arta, Rebecca, Bonnie, Doral, Cathy, Kelvin Jr, Mary, Joachim, Anita, Eric, Leo, Miranda
Bates: Wyona

As I do not have everyone's emails, please add a comment to this post, with additional email addresses, and I will send invitations to those people.

Also, If you have a better photo of the Lake, or if you have a photo of the Cabins (from the lake) please email those to me, and I will change the banner photo at the top ot the Blog.

- Doral

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Visit To See Kelvin

Dalton and I went to see Kelvin on Saturday.

He had 5 of his seven siblings visiting him at the same time. They were in the first-floor restaurant of the Care Centre, up near the glass window overlooking the garden and the glenmore reservoir. It looked like a family meeting.

They six of them were reading the reminiscences of Jack and Bessie, regarding the courtship and speedy wedding of the two. Bev was providing the oration. Occasionally one of the six siblings would add something that was not written down, but that they remember Jack or Bessie telling them.

Grant, Molly, Nadine, Bev and Sharon were there, along with Boyce. Cousin Anita, Andrea and Annika showed up as we were all about to leave. I teased those three about not seeing them in such a long time, and passed my home phone number along.

The Siblings and I explained the relationship between the six siblings to Dalton, and he whispered ("they're all my great aunts and uncles?"). If so, Dalton understands more of the relationship niceties that I do! Poor Dalton was bored silly with the story-telling, and would point to the spot on his wrist where a watch would be, if he was wearing a watch, to remind my of his boredom. It's interesting to see that pointing to one's wrist is a universal symbol of "let's go" even when most people no longer wear watches.

Dalton was surprised to hear about (my) Anita's attendance at Molly's pre-school. In the spirit of sharing courtship stories, I told everyone about the early days of Anita and I meeting. When Dalton and I returned home, Dalton was excited to tell Anita about my story-telling. Anita cryptically replied that sometimes the stories differ, depending on who is doing the telling.

I'll have to get Anita to tell me her version of our meeting and early dating, to find out where the stories part company!

We're PREGNANT!!!!!!!

We'd wanted our little girl to come in 2011, but she decided that was too long of a wait. So we'll hopefully see a new baby in the summer of 2010. Miranda's mother was talking to the dog (vegas) and saying that he was going to have a little brother or sister... so maybe it's going to be a puppy. : )

- Richard

Welcome To The Larch Haven Blog

This blog has been established for the purpose of keeping those interested in the Larch Haven updated on the various goings-on.