Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Bonnie and I attended a television viewing of the royal wedding of His Royal Highness, Prince William of Wales, K.G. to Catherine Middleton this morning.  The event was held on the Pilling Ground, Annis Bay.  Dress was formal (by Salmon Arm Standard -- , including hats, through gloves were option).  The party began at 5:30 a.m. Nine women were present. 

The event was preceded by a Champagne Breakfast which included raspberry and lemon scrumpets, a fresh fruit bowl, 3 kinds of tea and breakfast cake.  And, of course, the cork on a bottle of champagne was popped as the couple left Westminister Abbey, the bells wildly pealing in celebration of the event.

The procession that followed at 7:30 a.m. in Canada was for some of the commoners to go to work.  The retired, part-time and those on maternity leave stayed behind to finish viewing the tape and then rewinding it to catch Posh's hat again, and a view of Elton John needing the music to sing the Jerusalem Hymn.

The hats at our party were as flamboyant as those we saw on T.V.

The bling on our fingers and wrists held no less sparkle than the tierra on the head of the new Duchess of Cambridge.

One woman had fixed up the pink rubber gloves that she uses for dishes everyday so that they had all of the glamour and pizzazz of those gloves on the hands of the artistocracy.

A quiz was held and all participated by paper -- who is older, William or Catharine; where did they meet; where did he propose, etc.

The winners of the contest recieved Royal Teaspoons on which were the portraits of the bride and groom.

A lovely time was had by all.

Bonnie is now resting at home -- the excitement of the early morning event being too much for her.


Answers to the above questions:
a. Catharine
b. they were both art history majors at college
c. in Kenya

Puns for Educated Minds

Below are some funny puns that Catherine sent to Catie and Thomas.  If they don't understand any of them, they were told to ask their mom, so if you don't know the meaning of the puns yourself, you can now call and ask one of them and they will know the answer.

Puns For Educated Minds 

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.  He acquired his size from too much pi. 
4.  A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5.  No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
6.  A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7.  A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum  Blownapart.
8.  Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9.  A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
10.  Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
11.  Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
12.  Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
13.  I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

14.  A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
15.  The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

16.  The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
17.  A backward poet writes inverse.
18.  In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count  that votes.
19.  When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
20.  If you jumped off the bridge in Paris , you'd be in Seine .

21.  A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'

22.  Two fish swim into a concrete wall.  One turns to the other and says 'Dam!'
23.  Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

24.  Two hydrogen atoms meet.  One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.'
25.  Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root  canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
26.  There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.  No pun in ten did. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Carter-Johnson Trip to Calgary

The Carter-Johnson’s picked me up in Annis Bay and let me ride along with them to Calgary and back, on their bullet trip to Alberta to see Grandma Verlaine Carter – the last time to see her before they leave for London, England in the early summer. On the way to Calgary, we stopped at the Kicking Horse Rest Stop to go down and check out the river landing for the rafting company that takes tourists on trips down the river. There has always been a good wind blowing through that gorge when I have stopped there and this time was no different. I love the view of the bridge at Ten Mile Hill, and the milky colour of the water. The boys threw chunks of ice into the small eddy by the side of the path that leads down to the river.

Two days later, on the way back to Annis Bay, we stopped in a candy store at Lake Louise, at the Samson Mall, owned by the Samson River Band of the Hobbema First Nation’s Reserve. Rebecca doesn’t like shopping but being in a candy store is not considered by her to be shopping. For a half hour, she and her boys looked at infinite variety -- rolls of candy, each one of which contains a wrapper with a Shakespearian insult on it, i.e. “Thy breath sinketh like a cheese sandwich”. Alex bought Warship candies -- a lemon drop, the outside of which is coated in a white powder that is designed to bring the sucker to his knees, by sheer power of lip pucker.

Rebecca bought a roll of Pastel Pastiches, a return to her youthful past. The pastiches are a thin, slim wafer-like disk of candy. I remembered buying them when I was young, for if I sucked slowly on them, they would last a whole movie. The roll that Rebecca bought, she dropped and the package of pastel pastiches were not as much fun to eat as shards.

Alex can name every flavour of the mini jelly beans that he choose to buy. Now there is a talent – naming jelly bean flavours.

He bought a package of bacon-flavoured mints, which he freely shared. Nasty.


I am always trying to get people to learn to spell that word as we drive along in the car. Illecellewaet is the name of the river and the river valley that the #1 highway follows on its the westward descent from the pass. That First Nation’s word means running water ,and has the same meaning as the Maori word, Wyora, which is my mother’s name. The last syllable of the word is a kicker. There are not many English words that end with “waet”. If a little boy doesn’t have a penchant for spelling to begin with, getting all of those small syllables spelled right and separated by an “e” breaks down by the time he gets to the end of the word. There was a cash prize for anyone who learned to spell the word, which kept us at the task longer than usual.

We tried to capture some other facts on the drive: the elevation at the top of the Roger’s Pass is 1330 metres; the elevation of at the top of Scott Lake Hill (the road that climbs toward the west out of the Stony First Nations Reserve) is 1410. People think that sign is a clerical error. How could that point on the foothills be higher than the top of the Rogers Pass?

I brought Doral Pilling’s Oral History with me to read to the boys when their interest in the trip waned. We laughed again at the story of Frank and the white horse; the story of Loran and the knife under the hat; the story of 16 year old Doral and 21 year old Ivan’s first fight on the prairie; Amanda and the ghostly door handle; and the old classic of Amanda and the poisoned oats.
As we drive along the highway on our return trip, Duncan spotted a mountain goat. He drew my attention to a magpie hopping along the sidewalk, showing off the iridescent colours of its tail at our mall stop.

I saw a hawk sitting on a fence post as we drove along the Bergenham Marsh Reserve.

We walked along the shoreline of the Shuswap when we reached home. Long parallel lines of fine sand run along the edge of the water, deposited during winter storms. I could hardly take a step along the edge of the beach without seeing the whitened carcasses of salmon, now lying on the rocks and their skeletal bones bleached by the sun. Rebecca and I picked some up, turning them over, thinking ways to turn the fine fish ribs into necklaces. Finding none we threw them back to the ground. Alex picked up big boulders and dropped them against even larger rocks on the shore, testing out which ones would crack to reveal the pink and white quartz and soft mica inside. The creek by Sandy Beach is full of water. I listened to the rushing sound of its beach reach, a melodic line against the soft lapping of the water of the lake on the shore.

White bubbles move out from the stream’s base into the water.

Rebecca and I watched the concentric rings left when fish jump, flowing outward in the still water of the lake. We talked about the silver triangle of the light of the setting sun on its surface. Two ducks were swimming close to shore. An osprey slowly flapped its wings, gaining height as it flew from the water toward its nest in the forest.
skunk cabbage in bloom

We walked back up to the house, passing the dusky glow of yellow on the skunk
cabbage, still flowering in the stream.

This might have been the end of a perfect day, but Duncan has been begging people to play Risk: The Lord of the Rings – Middle Earth Conquest Game. For four days no one could facilitate him. It was now at the eleventh hour. It is not without some pain that Rebecca, Bonnie Wyora, Alex and I sat down to play since this is a 4-player game. At the same time, Steve read the rules to us, going back again and again to underline that fact that the players must attend to 1) reinforcement, 2) combat, 3) re-deployment, 4) drawing cards, and 5) fellowship.

You can imagine how much fun it was for us to stay up until the game ended at 2:30 a.m.


Spelled in caps.


Pumpkin Seeds

Wyona's gardening penchant is pumpkins.

Before we left the lake, she went to town to pick up some seeds so that she can have jack-o-lanterns in the fall.

Two packages interested her: regular pumpkins and giant pumpkins.

Glen look at the packages which say that these varieties are not to be planted next to each other, for they cross-pollinate and then you don't get either of the beautiful varieties in the package.

So we have the giant pumpkin seeds down at hour house.

Duncan has planted one; David Camps the other.

Now we get to see if either can grow, separated from each other as they are now.


Sunday, April 24, 2011


flowering Boxwood
I have been watching for the boxwood to flower, but didn't really see it happen until I was out trimming the bushes,

Tossing away some of the limbs I had cut, I noticed the finest of small flowers at the base of the leaves.
close up of flower
I can see the flower better with the magnification of the camera on a close-up, than I can see it when I am searching along its limbs to find the buds.

The flower is so tiny and has no scent -- just a little pink blossom nestled at the base of its leaves.


CPR Spring Clean Up

magnet at left end of flatbed
The CPR began the clean-up of the area on the south side of the track where a small road to the tracks leads off of the road one would drive on to go over the tracks.

Ten men and a foreman worked to get just the amount of metal onto the flat bed that you can see in this picture.

 I have walked down there three times, since it is interesting to see the arm of the crane swing that magnet over to the ground and then see rubbish clinging to that plate and delivered back to the flatbed.

What is left is the metal to the right side of the creosote ties you can see in this picture.

As well, those ties are destined for a new location, but one that requires special treatment.

moose droppings
It is hard to be on the property and not look down sometimes. This time of year I am looking for bear scat.

Imagine my surprise to find moose droppings, though no one else is surprised. They have been seeing the moose or 3 white-tailed deer for about a month on the property.

Joaquim says that the moose is Albertan, for hr only sees her on the weekends.


Married: Cathy Nielsen

Mull of Kintyre, Oh mist rolling in from
The sea my desire, is always to be here
Oh mull of Kintyre

Those are the lyrics we would have heard if Hamish, the Scottish piper and Nadine's son-in-law, had been able to sing along with his music today as he pipped for Cathy Nielsen to walk down the isle.

The room was full of the groom's loved ones who had come from far east as Victoria. 

As well, Cathy has five children and 9 grandchildren and their accompanying friends and sets of in-laws and her own in-laws.

My favorite part of the ceremony was the processional that finished the wedding.  Not that the walk was long, but when I looked around, just about every hand held a camera and was taking pictures -- so much happiness there for the guests who are delighted to see the couple begin a new life together.

He introduced his side of the family.

She introduced her side of the family.

"Come on", he said, "you know we all forget important names when we are under stress and try to do introductions."  How charming was that.

As they were visiting with their guests, he was at one table and she, just behind him at another.  I watched him turn to her and say, "You are beautiful.  Want a date?"

"Meet you at the altar," she replied.

Charlene McLung had created a lovely atmosphere with her decorating talents.   "This is absolutely the last wedding I am doing", she said.  "From now on, only events -- no weddings." All of her children were nodding in agreement.  They are a smooth team -- when the last guest as left the room, they are like a machine, folding chair covers, taking left-over food back to the kitchen, folding chairs and tables to get them back to their storage units, taking down decorations and packaging them so they will survive the trip home.

No one (except her children) likes to hear that Charlene won't be doing this kind of work anymore.

When I get to heaven and God asks, "How did you develop your decorating talent," I am going to say back to him as most of her friends will, "Didn't need to.  We just hired Charlene".

A fuller description of the wedding was given to Miranda and Richard tonight as we finished quilting her baby quilt and updated them on their Johnson relatives who were a lot of fun today.  Wish you could have been there.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Skunk Cabbage in bloom

I have been working all over in the yard, but never touching some of the plants.

I only look at the beauty of the skunk cabbage and never get close enough to weed it.

Nor close enough to smell it.

I did not have time to stop and pick up the burdock that is at the bottom left of the picture, just waiting for a chance to embed itself into the bank of the stream.

Picking up those nasty clumps of seeds is what I should have been doing instead of trying to get the camera to focus "just right" on the skunk cabbage itself.

The brilliant yellow is the only colour in the garden so far.

On the trip back to Calgary I was watching for patches of skunk cabbage along the highway.

Usually there is a whole marsh of it, just to the south of the Enchanted Forest.

That area is not in bloom yet, nor are the water lilies that are there in bloom as yet, but a person who travels the road frequently should start looking out for the flower right now. 

Hard to imagine that the leaves of the plant are going to get six feet high before the summer is out.

Lovely patches of the plant can be seen from the highway, if a person looks over the side of the road and into the meadows along the kilometer that rims the Skunk Cabbage Board Walk in Revelstoke National Park.

The only person who should not look is the driver.

This is the closest view I can get for you of the middle of the flower.

I wish I could have captured the sound of the stream as it was running by, as well.


Don't bury the graft

The first evidence of Spring

The look of Spring is everywhere.  I can feel it best in my bones when I lay down at night and notice which muscles I have been using during yard work in the day.

The ewe tree at the foot of the Wedding Reach of the stream sits quietly on the hill, well established and marking the end of the first path by the stream.  I cleaned the underbrush from it, and checked to see the the wild mint that Mary and I transplanted to the foot of it is still propogating.

Bonnie tells me that the steep path down the hill beside the tree is the one the resident moose takes on her way up and down the hill.

The willows on the hillside are in bud, letting me see which are the ones that need to come out.

Bonnie has taken the new salmon berry growth off of the hill, yet another time.

We are hoping to have only fern on that hill this year.

I was on my knees, looking at the first flash of colour from the skunk cabbage, seeing only the bloom and knowing that the huge six foot leaves are yet to come.

They sit in the cold water, letting it swirl around them, never showing that it might be cold to have your roots buried deep in the rap of the pool they are in.

I watch eagerly for the tiger lilies that are are gift from the Pilling house.

This is my first time to see them sprouting through the earth at my garden.

I am practising my skills at differentiating the weeds from the flowers.

And now I am noticing that pulling out a long string of quack grass can also disturb the roots of one of these lilies.

So much fun to see the flash of purple colour  that comes next to them and then to know that when I get back to the lake, tall stems will be there, waiting for the bells of the lilies to hang down by mid summer.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Apple Tree

"removing rocks from the apple tree hole"
Yesterday the hole for the new apple tree was dug.   

David leaped in and out of it, whenever his dad put down the pick axe to empty the hole of the earth and gravel he has been laboriously  loosening. 

Along with Joaquim, David hopped in the hole with a shovel as well, although it was only big enough for one person.

Joaquim accommodated him. 

grandma's gloves fit me best
By the time I got there, Joaquim had already shared the apple tree hole with David, and told his own story about being in the Spanish army having to dig a fox hole and then sleep in it overnight.

They decided not to sleep in theirs.

The clay, sand and loam have been mixed now, the tree dumped out of the bucket, the tree given a snack of bone meal amid the sand, clay and loan we mixed for it and some rudimentary hardening off done with both David and me getting our hands right in there to mix the soil.  

The apple tree has a new home and down the hill a bit, I have two sticks on the ground, crossed into an X, waiting for Joaquim to start the hole for the cherry tree.


Fig and Fennel Bread

While eating some of the warm Fig and Fennel bread I had just pulled out of the oven, Joaquim asked me if I had a list of the different kinds of bread I can bake. 

“Yes,” I said, and pointed to the inside of my head. 

“That is not going to help me much,” he said.

To tell you the truth, it doesn’t help me much either.  I wondered to myself if I really do have a list like that in my head and my mind began to spin from the most recently made, to loaves I made long ago. 
The Fig and Fennel Recipe comes from and I thought as I was eating my second piece of it, that I hadn’t made anything quite that spectacular ever.  I am not a bread eater, but I went on to eat three toasted pieces of it tonight after  coming home from listening to live folk music.  As I was watching the butter melt into the crust I remembered going to another internet site where they said they had a recipe that improved on the one at recipe, which they thought was bland. 
I am not chasing down the new recipe they refer to – since I thought I had ambrosia in my hands already.
Mary had me test out a Roasted Garlic Bread recipe when I was in Ottawa and she declared that it was definitely a winner. 

The week before, Lisa and I had experimented with Saffron Bread, since she and I had been trying to get a sense of what saffron really tasted like by holding some of it on the tip of our tongues until we thought our minds had a memory for it.  Later that day I read the saffron has to be dissolved for about 20 minutes for the true flavour to come out.  No wonder Lisa and I thought it tasted like paper mache when we were doing our spice experiment with it.

Then I was reminded of the breads we ate last summer:  the Russian Black Bread that had hints of cumin, chocolate and molasses; the Danish Sesame Bran Bread that made the air so fragrant when it was toasted.  

My own personal favourite was the Cheesy Moon Bread filled with parmesan cheese, stuffed green olives, basil, garlic powder, oregano leaves and paprika.

We ate the Country Seed Bread all summer as well.  I don’t know what it is about flax, poppy seeds and sesame seeds that made those “country seeds”, but that bread began to be preferred over a loaf of hot white bread.

If sheer volume of the kinds of bread I make was the measure of what is a favourite, Aunt Erva’s Cinnamon Bun recipe would take the prize.   On the other hand, with Easter so close, wouldn’t some homemade Hot Cross Buns be the first thing you would want to pop into your mouth?

Well, it is hard to make a list of every kind of bread, let alone choose a favourite.  I had four loaves of fig and fennel bread on the counter, one cut already, and when David came into the room he asked for a piece from a loaf that was not cut.  “We all get one,” he announced, “and I want a piece of my own loaf.”

I have never divided the loaves up that way before, .... but why not?  There were four of us in the house.
One loaf each.

The Steel

Today I was cutting a pineapple and my knife blade was so dull that it took the pressure of two of my hands to bring the blade down.  Now some of that might have been arthritis, but not all. 

I have also been reorganizing cupboards and came across a small steel, 1 x 2 by 6 inch gunmetal gray block like the one I used to see my dad used.

“Does using a steel really have to be a man’s job?”, I thought, after looking around the house for man who could sharpen my knife and finding none.

I took the steel block down from the cupboard and brought it over to the table, with a few drops of water in a small bowl and tried to bring up those old memories of him making small circular motions, trying to get the same grating sound that I used to hear when he would sharpen the knives and the same 45 degree angle on the knife.  I remembered that when he didn’t have enough water, he would just spit on the steel, but having brought enough water, I didn’t have to default to that practise.

When he was finished he would say, “Look, it is so sharp I can cut the hairs on my arm”.  Then he would deftly bring the blade across some black hair that was standing upright on his forearm. 

Alternately, I can see him testing its sharpness by slicing a piece of paper and while I can remember the sound of the tear, the action was not quite as interesting.

I tested my work by going back to the pineapple.  The rows of pineapple eyes now came out like a dream.

David tries pose of Henkel Twins on knife
“Bonnie, I am going to teach you a heritage family skill from the past, if you have five minutes”, I said. 

She and David sat down to take a try sharpening another knife, given that if one knife is dull, there are others around it that are duller.

The only time I felt a little fear is when I saw the vigour with which she tried to test the knife’s sharpness by running the blade of it up and down her forearm to see if she could take a stray hair off. 

No visible hairs fell. No blood was drawn, either.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

William and Kate's Wedding a la Dance!

Borrowed from the Facebook Page of Ed Saiedi, a former tenant of Arta and Kelvin's:

That is as small as it gets.  Here is the link to Youtube if you want to see it there:

Throwing or Putting?

So... at Alex's school today, in phys-ed, the class started learning about shotput. According to wikipedia

the shot put is a track and field event involving "putting" (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy metal ball—the shot—as far as possible. It is common to use the term "shot put" to refer to both the shot itself and to the putting action.

The record for the 12 year old boys in Alex's school is 9 metres. On Alex's first throw, he sent the shot flying 12 metres.

The teacher says that Alex MUST sign up for the Shotput team on thursday. No surprise there!

Monday, April 18, 2011

You should have been at the funeral

"I love you."
While we were digging the hole into which a new apple tree will be planted, worms began to emerge from the ground.  David tried to pick up one with a shovel.  The tip of the shovel landed on one worm which now became two worms.  Next he tried picking a worm up with a rock.  It hung precariously there until it slipped off onto the ground on one of the first walks David took with it. 

When we found the next worm and put it out on the tarp we practised singing "Inch Worm", that old duet made famous by Danny Kaye in the '50's.

The last worm was a beauty, long and fat, lots of concentric rings around it's body, with that deliciously burnished brown and red look.  As an added bonus, it was covered with fine grit.  David took that worm up to the porch with dreams of getting a transparent bottle for its new home, some earth, a few leaves, and some moisture to keep it alive.  We didn't get that task finished together but it had been thought out.

The inch worm did make it into a white yogurt container wtih some dirt, some leaves, and a cracked lid on top.

The next morning David took his mother to the front porch to visit his pet.  Bonnie tilted the dirt this way, that way, onto the lid, shifting and sifting, until she found a dry, thin, short rope-like shrivel.

When he saw it, his face dropped, shoulders fell, his eyes got wide, his body started to gentley bounce, his face turned red, and he began to cry.  This event marks the death of David's first pet, one who has was now gone to a better life.

Inconsoluable grief would be a good description of how David felt. He ran to his room and curled up in his closet.

Bonnie gathered together all of David's adults to see if any of them could help him in his sorrow.

I told him that 21 of my worms had also died last night.  They had crawled up onto the porch and were playing there in the water the day before.  But this morning, when I took the geraniums outside to harden them off, I saw that my worms, too, had lost their moisture.

I had been thinking about bringing David to the bottom deck to take a look at them, but then, as happens with 1000's of fleeting thoughts, that one left me and I didn't take him on that adventure.

Bonnie Wyora told the story of the death of her first pet -- a slug.  Grandpa Doral had talked to her about her loss and had suggested that she bury its corpse up in the woods.  So David and Bonnie planned to go to that same spot to inter his dead worm.

"Would you like to say a few words," she said to him. "Grandma Arta had suggested, 'I am glad I knew you'." David nodded and said, "I love you," looking down at the earth, fat tears spilling down his cheeks again.

He came back to the house, gathered up  the 21 worms from the lower deck and laid them to rest as well along side his pet.

Yes.  You all should have been at the funeral.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Royal Wood at the Shuswap Theatre

Bonnie and I slipped off to hear pop and ballad singer, Royal Wood tonight.  The light was shining through the opening of the hills around Bastion Mountain.  Ahead of us, one traveller had pulled off the road to catch the light of the sinking sun against the hills.  The theatre was sold out.  As one patron said to me at intermission, "We went to the other theatre tonight and when we could see we were at the wrong venue, we still had plenty of time to get over here to catch the event."  This was said in the context of our evening drive through town:  two teenagers at the light on mainstreet, and four blocks further we saw two other kids out on the streets.  This is a sleepy town. I hope the two groups of kids meet up with one another.

Perhaps everyone was at the theatre for no one was on the streets.

After intermission, Bonnie won the door prize -- tickets for two for May 6th's "Heartbreak House" presented by the Shuswap Theatre.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Science club member takes to the kitchen

Where shall we start?
There is a new club in the Shuswap - Science Club. Science Club started two weeks ago when David asked me when we was going to be done with Behavior Intervention. I asked him what he meant. He said, "You know, all those eye-games I play with Dawn, Behavior Interventionist".

With the Autism Funding from the BC government, David has been attending 9 hours a week of a program called "Reference and Regulate". In the program, children learn to get themselves calm and to start watching adults for nonverbal signs of what they are thinking. Many of the activities are done without using words at all. Apparently "the gig was up" and David had figured out that these games were actually work.

I replied to his query, "If you say you are done, you are. Congratulations. You officially have graduated from Behavior Intervention. How about we have 'Science Club' instead?" He had the same look of joy that you see in the photo above. So we picked a friend from school and invited him to join David and Dawn (former Behavior Interventionist, new Science Club teacher) for two mornings a week.

Science Experiment #1
Creating a volcano and making it erupt. Thanks to Cousin Naomi and her volcano summer birthday party, they were able to observe the eruption in one the volcanoes saved in Arta's house. They then made their own volcanoes using modelling clay.

Science Experiment #2
Create a robot. The robot is a dinosaur. It has a head, a little piece of lightening coming out of it's mouth, it's medium sized, and the feet will be put on next week.

Science Experiment #3
Dawn is out of town, so we have moved the club to Arta's kitchen. Stay posted for what comes next after homemade slurpees and poppy seed cake. They came after making oatmeal for breakfast and discovering the properties of brown sugar and the reaction between the brown sugar and the heat of the steaming bowl of porridge.

Science Club

What shall we do next, Grandma?
This morning David and I made a poppy seed cake. I was practicing using attachments to a Braun 5in1 machine which I have had for 15 years, but have only used to slice onions.

This morning we used the whippers to beat egg whites, we used the cake paddle to make a poppy seed chiffon cake, and we practiced making ice with another blade twice, once for David and once for his dad.

Now we are going out to plant an apple tree. Having heard Glen say you cannot buy the tree until you dig the hole, we are taking the pick-axe out and our shovels. We are headed out to dig a hole 17 paces away from the pear tree and 5 paces in from the road. In six years we will invite you over for apple pie, the filling grown on our own lot, and the apples cut with the 5in1.


Homemade Slurpees this Summer

crushing ice
Hurry summer! Hurry to the Lake cousins. This morning's kitchen experiment was to see if we could crush ice with the 5-in-1 machine. We had apple juice over crushed ice, but the ice was crushed so tiny we think it will be perfect for making slurpees. If "screamers" is what you want, David has a machine to make Dairy Queen blizzards that will make the soft icecream to go in your homemade slurpee. Come soon. We can't wait to see you all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Easter

hens, nests and eggs
When Easter comes later, rather than earlier in April, there is more opportunity for celebration.

I would have let decorating the house pass me by, but the international students are always asking about celebratory customs, wanting to know the difference between secular and religious holidays.

I decided to explore their interest and slipped out to the garage to survey the shelves for boxes of decorations labelled EASTER.

I have eggs stashed away that we blew out years ago.

Remember when we would put pin pricks in the tops and bottoms of raw eggs, blow out the centres and then colour the empty shells and hang them on a tree.

egg decorating by blowing out the centres of eggs
I can still feel the ache in my cheeks after blowing out a couple of dozen of those.

I can remember fishing bits of broken egg shells back out of the bowl into which only the whites and the eggs yolks were to fall.

As well,  I can still remember the taste of  the raw eggs that somehow reached my lips instead of ending up in the bowl of middles that we made into scrambled eggs later.

There is no one who can remember eating those scrambled eggs without having to pick out the stray shell here or there.

Amazing that anyone can still love Easter after bringing up those old memories.

I am not introducing the guys who live here to the pleasures of colouring eggs, either the empty shells or the hard-cooked ones that we used to roll down the hills on Easter morning..

the really good treats are long gone from this dish
For Easter joys, I did a candy run to London Drugs and what you see here are the less preferred of the candies that I brought home.

All that is left from what I bought are some Easter ju-jubes, some malt balls and a few foil-wrapped chocolates.

Two weeks to go ... and more Easter treats to come.

Home-made hot cross buns are next on my list of tangible Easter joys.


A Cheesecake Photo-Op

"I have a perfect coach."
Mati and I have been thinking about cheesecake recipes.

He has been making them.

I am only his coach.

Each practise gets a little better, though we didn't get in on the first tasting.

That cake went straight to his workplace for a party.

Now he made a second one for us, using all of the right methods: the cream cheese was soft and not overbeaten, the top of the cake was finished with a ganache and the cake was cooled before we cut into it. Add to that, the batter was flavoured with Wyona' special spice: Kaluha.

"I have a perfect student."
Can life be better than that?

All I had to do was provide the cheesecake spring form pan.


Quilting as a Hobby

Tools of the trade - scissors, pliers, needles and thread


I tried everything I knew to disuade Miranda from learning how to quilt.

I told her that it is the old-fashioned way, no one does it like that anymore, it is cheaper to buy a quilt than to make one home-made, that she should just wait for hand-me downs from other babies and do something else with her time, that I am no good at patchwork and couldn't help her, that it would take time and trouble to borrow the stands, buy the frames, and that she would have to buy new needles, a set of pliers, quilter's thread, and use a staple gun to attach the quilt to the frames.

... a few more stitches and we will be done
None of this was enough to prevent her from going ahead and putting on her baby quilt.

When we were quilting this morning, I was thinking of how beautiful the quilts are that Moiya and Wyona have been doing by machine, and I said to her, "I think you are going to be the only one who is making a quilt the old-fashioned way."

She just smiled.

I am leaving for 10 days, and Miranda is going to finish it on her own.  When I try to take picture of other women, they duck out on me.  I understand since there is a part of all of us that likes a finished photo presentation.  She was willing for a candid tonight.  This photo is not posed.  She is really quilting.

Look!  Even a thimble on her finger, and blood on the tip of her thumb if one could see it.

Stitch and pull.  Stitch and pull. 



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday Morning at the Opera

The four of us at the opera
I took my early morning walk to London Drugs on Saturday.

I needed to purchase enough Easter candy to fill my purse for the opera: the Met - Live in HD.

I also went through Thomas' candy stash to flesh out with chocolate bars, varieties of which I hadn't bought at the store.

I was so busy getting the treats ready that I remembered everything to tuck into my bag but my wallet, so it was a surprise to me when I got to the ticket wicket and had no money, no matter how deeply I dug through the various treat bags in the shoulder handpurse.

"Just one picture, Grandma."
Doral brought Dalton and Ceilidh down to the Cineplex where we met for the opera. At the very minute he entered the theatre with them, is the moment when I had decided no money, so no opera for us.

So being still at the ticket wicket, the kids went to the opera on Doral's credit card.

The opera was charming.  The real treat is to listen to Rossini's Comte Ory while sitting between two grandchildren.  As well, at the intermission we heard that the tenor had just helped helped to midsives deliver his first baby 1/2 hour before the performance began.

Dressed up for Rossini's Comte Ory
Wyona and Lurene were at the movie as well, sitting well ahead of us.

The line-up for the performance was long at 10:30 am.

A woman who was in the line-up with us said, "Excuse me, but could you tell me why there is a long line-up. I am here to exchange tickets for an afternoon movie. Why are the rest of you here?"

Small groups of opera crowd explained why we are liniong up so early Saturday morning.  We  are getting to know one another for it was just last week that many of the same crowd saw Iphigenie en Tauride, together.  Someone told me that they had also seen Carmen last week in 3-D over at Country Hills -- broadast from London, but I haven't seen that advertized, which is probably good for my wallet.

There are 2 more performances coming this month: Captriccio and Il Trovatore.

As well, Miranda and Richard came up with some tickets for the Calgary Opera production of Aida.  I told them that I am used to the second balconey tickets, so it was a treat to be on the main floor and sitting beside Charise and Lurene as well.

The blue accordian fold on table is the catapillar
On Saturday, we decided Meighan is too young to go and read the subtitles so she stayed home for craft time.

She made a house for her blue cardboard caterpillar, which she was pleased to show me when we took the older kids home.

I, of course, was trying to capture her cute little face, with a blue tattoo on her cheek and red streaking in her hair.