Sunday, July 31, 2011

Betty Blue Eyes?

I can have tickets for tomorrow night for "Betty Blue Eyes".   Any of you out there seen that one yet?  Will the boys like it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Waffles, Anyone?

Mmmm.
 I didn't hear cheers after the first morning of waffles.

I said to Bonnie, "I think I pulled a dud. Shall we try something else?"

"Maybe sourdough waffles every other morning."

"Maybe we have worn them out."

David chooses his food a different way.

His Doctor told him he has to eat my the colour code, so he works on how many colours he has had a day.

Waffles only provide red, and the interesting point that strawberries are the only fruit where the seed is on the outside and not at the core of the fruit.



Who wants to have my syrup instead of whipping cream?

We asked Doral at night.

"What would your kids like?"

"Are you kidding", he said. "Whatever you think was going on in their heads, I can tell you, if every morning isn't waffles, it will be a great disappointment."

So the jobs are distributed.

I make sourdough.

Doral slices cherries.

Anita whips cream.

Joaquim does dishes.

My third morning in a row
Strawberry / Cream / Sourdough Waffles
Today we went on the proposition that these kids want waffles every day.

Today was tutoring day.

A young girl comes for some reading tutoring and her father and brother and sister come along with her.

They brought along snacks, for mid-morning, but they were in time to join us for waffles
Thus, the waffles were spread far and wide -- no left overs.

So tomorrow?

Again?

Waffles!

Poor us.

Look down.

Down.

Down, for what you are missing.

Mmmm.
No ice cream on mine, thank you.
Recipe to follow on the blog shortly.

Just keep thinking sourdough.

Pics

I'm not ready to have help pulling this tooth ... yet.
Zach has a tooth loose.

This is the best shot I could get of exactly how loose that tooth was.

It requires a lot of protection when he is eating an apple, or using his teeth is tear away at a waffle.

There have been so many offers of help to get that tooth out ... but the time is not right.
A little lunch on the face
Audra's teeth are doing well.

But she is so little, she needs snack time often.

When her mother was going to take her home for more food, we decided she could take a snack here ... a spare waffle, a bit of apple, and I have no idea how chocolate ended up around her lips, but there it is for all to see.

How sweet to have visitors.

I'm waiting for the other cousins to get here.
No one is happier than the Treleaven kids who are the first of the cousins here ... besides David, who is not a seasonal, but a regular.

Bage

A Fear of Ferns

Sicamous, population 3,163, though Bonnie says that since they moved here, that number should be 3,166. But that is not exactly true, for as we found out today, we are in the Salmon Arm District when it comes to counting the tally of who lives where. Still, all of the libraries are connected, and I came away with my card updated, and Wyona came away with a new card.
“Oh, you are David Camps’s aunt? I just love David”, said the librarian.

“Then you don’t know him well”, said Wyona.

The librarian took Wyona’s comment at face value and assured Wyona that she has known and watched him for two years, and that what she loves best about him is his facility with language.

What has happened with David is that he has broken the reading code before beginning school. So a question, do you like Red Hot, really means David has been looking at the label on the bottle Amir has been pouring on his pizza.

There aren’t very many children at the lake this year. When they drop by I like to take their pictures.

Landon has only good days.
Like this one of Landon whom I like to capture with a small bit of clear drool hanging from his lips. But in my effort to get that, he gave me this classic cupie doll look that I love.

Audra came over to the house with her brothers.

After a while, she needed food.

This morning’s cold waffles and a few slices of apple were what her mom offered her from our almost bare larder.

I think that chocolate smear around her face is from the ice-cream parlour that Wyona has in her garage – one 2 ½ gallon bucket and four 4-litre flavours as well, plus a waffle cone maker that is in full production as of today.

I'm going to climb this hill?
The other two cute kids on the property are Audra’s brothers.

They took a walk with us up to the highway to check out the motor bikes.

On the way down the hill we took time to investigate a fearsome stand of ferns.

There was a lot of fear walking into that area, until we finally discovered it is possible to hide in the ferns – like a where’s Waldo puzzle.

This is the first set of boys who have wanted to climb up and down the old roof of an abandoned shed the side of the hill.


 I can climb this?
“I’m the king of the castle ....”

An adventure at every curve of the road, here.

The New Boulevard

Welcom again.  Though the sign is askew you can find your way through too a brilliantly new beautiful space to enjoy along the road.

Glen has been mowing the boulevard that goes from my house, past the two cabins and over to Moiya’s.

Because every day since I have been here, is a rainy day the ground is greener and more lush than the boulevards that I used to walk along in Calgary just a few weeks ago.

All of that moisture has become the topic of information gathering and passing where ever a person is.

Today at the Sicamous bottle depot there were no cans with holes in them, set out to catch hornets as there were last year.

Now the dampness of the weather and all of that sweet, sticky soda and alcohol combine to make the exposed area on any body a banquet for mosquitoes.



Stretch out your arms and you can see five on one forearm and eight on the other – they are drinking faster than I can swat them.

I did run into a wasp when I was weeding under the white rose bush.

I thought I had a thorn in my arm until I picked out the stinger and saw that tell-tale white ring that flushes to an extended red ring and then begins to throb. The pain is also a good indicator to me that the wasp won that round.

Local remedies abound for those who like home-made medicines: try a dab of ammonia on a wound, a mixture of baking soda and water, cider vinegar, peppermint toothpaste, or as at our house, an ammonia-based product called After Bite.

We need some hot sun to dry up the mosquito breeding grounds.

And stopping the supply of blood they are collecting would also be nice.

Dog Pile

The mud slide on the TransCanada Highway necessitates a detour down to Radium and back up to Golden, turning a 6 hour drive to the Shuswap into a nine hour adventure. This was the year they got into the car without sandwiches or snacks to eat along the way.


The next morning, I am the lucky person who got a “dog pile” on my bed – Dalton, Ceilidh and Meighan with David crawling under the covers at the foot of the bed. We tried to make a list of must-do’s while they were on holidays. Waffles, strawberries, ice-cream, then whipped cream and chocolate sauce were the first item on the list. The sour dough waffle batter was ready, and by the time Doral had sliced the strawberries there was food for all.

The day was full. Ron Treleaven and the Treleaven-Vancouver cousins left for home. The Calgary-Treleaven cousins come tomorrow. The Medicine Hat-Bates cousins come the next day.

Cousins. Cousins, cousins! And summer at the Shuswap!

Wild Flowers on a Walk

Doral said he was going to talk a walk. Anita had her runners on before anyone else. I flew out the door last to do the thing I want to do most each day – a walk brisk enough that I can’t talk but must concentrate on my breathing.

Ceilidh joined us for our walk the next day. My goal was to have her name six wild flowers she could spot in the woods – when the walk was over. She began by asking about the clover in my lawn, at which point I began to think about the kinds of clover were going to see. The five foot high clumps of white clover line Bernie road. The sweetness of the smell reminded me of scented honey. The small clumps of royal purple clover have the flower stalks I love the best, for when they have gone to seed, the rich brown colour and sweep of the brackets remind me of Chinese pagodas.

A colourful stand of fushia coloured domesticated flowers rim one side of Bernie Road. They were planted there many years ago by Odell French when she would take her yearly walk. “I don’t believe in God,” she told me, “but I like to plant flowers as I walk for they will live on after me.”

Many years ago she asked me who had been our guests on the property. I couldn’t think of anyone who had been there so she described in more detail – there were many teen-age girls ... you had many people there. Then I remembered: Mormon Girls Camp.

Odell had owned a fashion boutique in Revelstoke before she retired. “The girls were so beautiful,” she went on. “So fresh, so alive, so healthy, and they were laughing and having so much fun.”

All of that was going through my mind when Ceilidh noticed the flowering of the seeds that Odell had planted so long ago.

Douglas Aster
We saw the Douglas Aster next, for that is the hardest flower’s name to remember on the walk ... unless you know someone named Douglas and we may have had to go to a Bible story in the Old Testament, where a man was riding an ass to think of how to remember the second part of that flower’s name.

More on flowers tomorrow....

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Note from Elizabeth Davies Olsen to the Pilling Family

I took a few trips to the auditorium to stand in the line-up for the Wicked lottery, a chance for 20 people to buy tickets for $25 right in the orchestra (about row D and F).  I met an old friend there, Elizabeth Davies.  She had come up from Magrath for the same show and was hoping to get a ticket in the orchestra.  

Neither of us were lucky enough to have our names drawn, but we did get an hour together and after that meeting she wrote a lovely email note to Moiya and me, one about our parents.  I am sharing that note below.  Enjoy.

I want to share some happy pieces of my life with you. I woke up thinking of them. No one encouraged journals except for missionaries as I grew up. Too bad I didn't think of it myself! I have an extensive journal during that year and a half in Vancouver and Victoria that I spent on a mission, but no other record till Roger went on his mission. I did write spasmodically over the years after Dale died but it is sketchy.  (I hadn't realized meeting you would trigger so many of my memories, so you'll have to skim all this clutter).  Now a journal entry from my memory has been triggered by my meeting with Arta, which I am sure was not by chance.
Arta, you are so much both your parents- you just triggered so many happy Doral and Wyora memories for me.

You stopped right in the middle of everything and invited me to your home. Miraculously I had an unscheduled hour to wait for the play and you drove me over to your home. I mentioned Erva Sherwood and you turned right around and knocked on her door. That was so much like your mom- she went out of her way constantly for everyone. I treasure the visit with Kelvin and am so sorry he is not well. You just stopped your life and let me in- drinking cranberry juice from a lovely wedding goblet you still cherish. Thank you.

I remember Wyora's time in the Relief Society Presidency. She told me that when she was called to the job, she cried all the way home as she walked from the Crescent Road chapel. She had no idea how she could find time. I don't know if Glen was already born or if she was expecting him.

I didn't have time for Relief Society. I had two wild little boys and Relief Society was in the middle of the week. I didn't drive and Dale had the car all day at school anyway. Relief Society was for old ladies and I was young. Wyora gently enlisted my help. “Elizabeth, could you phone these ladies for me. I have a lot to do to get my family cared for in the morning, but if you load up my car I'll pick up these sisters and their children and take them to the meeting.” How could I refuse? This lady would give me the shirt off her back! Reluctantly I became a Relief Society sister, even if it was for elderly ladies. I would phone and when she came for me I told her who was coming.

Luckily in the olden days seat belts were unheard of and we piled those children and sisters into her car and had a great visit to and from the meeting. We were first there and last to leave but my week always went better. I remember when she taught the theology lessons. She made mammoth charts and I always felt inspired when I heard her lesson and realized she lived everything she ever tried to teach me. She later confided in me that all her car trips had wrecked the springs in the car. I wonder how they held out as long as they did.

The Relief Society offered to quilt for any sisters who wanted to do a quilt. Where else to do them but Wyora’s? She had the most time and biggest heart and her living room was bigger than most. Actually there were lots of bigger houses, but we always seemed to use hers. I had made two little bunk bed matching quilt tops. I brought them to Wyora’s the night before with my batting. By the time I got there next day with the lunch, she had already put one on the frames and somehow managed to make the first round on it. Obviously she had more spare time than the rest of us.

She had a shower for everyone and we all felt very much at home in your home. Of course Wyona's memorable bridal shower was the most vivid memory as your dad had such fun, in the kitchen, cutting up the a deer he had just shot while we enjoyed the elegant lunch and visiting in the living room.

I remember her story of having Bob Walker to dinner when he became a doctor in Calgary. Your dad felt she was being too perfect or something, so he tripped her as she brought the gravy in and the formal dinner suddenly evaporated into real life.  My sense of humour is not so hot for I would not have been able to laugh about this memorable experience, but she did.

When Roger was a baby we didn't have baby showers- there were so many new babies we would have gone broke on gifts. I had nice gifts for Roger but he soon outgrew the baby things. Garage sales were unheard of and there was no Desert Industries or thrift stores around like we take for granted now. I had no relatives there to hand down clothes but one day Wyora appeared at the door. She was the soul of tact. Would I be able to use any of these little boy clothes? Someone had asked her to distribute them. We all considered ourselves too proud to accept charity but we were all struggling. I am still amazed at how sweetly she helped me realize I would be doing her a favor if I could make use of them. When we went to Utah for Dale's masters degree I was DI's best customer and they had yard sales then, but I will never forget those clothes she brought me. Probably Glens come to think of it.  Thanks Glen!

Top of Bernie Road
We only went to the lake once with the children. We were on the way to visit Dale's brother in Nanaimo. We had all five children by then and stayed overnight.
I was amazed at those cabins, and at the joy they gave so many people who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity for a vacation.
It was the first time I had had whipped cream and fresh strawberries on pancakes for breakfast. I still remember all the fun the Pilling kids were having there.

Our last time at the lake was the weekend Dale died. I had just lost Richard, our last baby. He was born in early February and was stillborn at eight months. I now realize I was in depression for some time because I had no desire to go anywhere. In March people kept saying “You need to go see Wyora, she's not going to be here much longer.” I kept putting it off. I just couldn't face much or seem to cope. I wish I had gone, but I know she'd forgive me.
At her funeral I sat in the choir and watched all the people she had touched file in. I remember George and Fern Kelly that I hadn't seen for years, but they were there for her. There were so many others.

By May I was just starting to feel my old self again and the Men’s Chorus trip to Vernon was our first outing in a long time. They sang Friday and we had all day Saturday to just walk around the shore and take in the beauty of that happy place.
I hadn't been anywhere without five little souls trailing behind and we had that beautiful day all to ourselves. I didn't realize then that day was to say goodbye. I've never been back to the lake again, but it was such a beautiful chance to be together. I spent that night in hospital and Melchin's brought me back to Calgary the next day.

The Lord just picked me up and carried me. He blessed me with five easy children to raise.  My brother Cam lived with us three years till he married and two years after that we moved to Magrath. My parents were a block away and were such a blessing in helping raise my children. The whole town helped.
I married Theran Olsen seventeen years after Dale died. The children by then were all out of high school and three were married. We had fifteen happy years together before he passed away in 2001.
I served a mission twice in Salt Lake at the family history library for a total of four and a half years and manage to keep busy here in Magrath now where three of my children live. Actually it takes twice as long to do anything so I am able to occupy my time.

Wyora always maintained the hill behind their house was planted with children’s shoes, at least one from each pair. She spent a lot of time hunting them, especially looking for the shoes her children should be wearing to church on Sunday. That magic house was able to expand to welcome everyone who came by or who needed a place to stay.

We stayed there several days . We were going to Edmonton to summer school our first year of marriage and had three days till we needed to leave. We'd had to move from our apartment as it was re-rented. She invited us over on the pretence that I could help Rita a bit with her reading.  I don't know who got moved out of their room to let us stay there, but I doubt if it was the first or last time.
Anyway, thanks again, Pilling kids. You were a flexible bunch. 
I'd like to know more about your lives and children.

I heard a little about Arta's but not enough. 

Much love,

Elizabeth Davies Olsen

The London phone number...

Duncan is really sad not to be out at the lake this summer with his cousins. He says "I will be sending lots of postcards and notes home... And maybe sometimes objects"

His mother is more likely to phone home, as we got a great "phone Canada" plan.

If anyone wants to phone us (from Canada), the number is:
011 44 20 8248 8826

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Money Saver

Sure, I'll try punching down the bread.
Joaquim is always reading books about how to save money.  

The latest tip he shared with us is that once a month, instead of doing your regular grocery run, try to eat from your house.  

Be sure to check your fridge, your freezer and your cupboards. If you are the type to hoard treats, also check your usual hiding spots.  Well, that part wasn't in the book.

Thus, we are trying to use up everything in the beer fridge, which includes multiple varieties of cheese.  

So I tossed together some pizza dough for lunch and then was lucky enough to have Marcia, Audra and the boys drop by. 

 “Yes, I want to try to punch down the dough,” said Zach.



This isn't how I thought it would feel.

The idea of getting into the bread dough is much more fun that the actual task.

... unless having something sticky on your hands is your idea of fun.

I finished off the pizza later – home made sauce (well, I just jazzed up some bottled sauce), artichokes, sundried tomatoes, green peppers, Chinese mushrooms and parmigiano romaniganio cheese sprinkled right to the corners.

Trying to use up everything in the fridge works when the item to use up is naan.  

Knowing there was Indian bread put the idea of other Indian recipes into my head: dahl, rice and peas (lot of fennel and onions in the mix) and chicken korma.


Oh it is great to have lots of good food in the freezer to use.  We have been thawing the raspberries to put on the summer waffles with whipping cream and slicing the strawberries to add to the ice-cream.

The contents of the first barrel garden were a donation from a long-time Salmon Arm gardener, living in the same cul-de-sac as David's friend. Bonnie  now has spearmint growing in the herb garden and the lemon mint is growing even taller. She cautions, "Be careful when complimenting someone's garden.  You may just come home with some mystery plants."

There must be some good recipes for those herbs -- those identified and those yet to be identified.

Duncan's first blog post

Well.... yesterday, we hopped on the Eurostar to return to London, Duncan dictated, and I typed his first blog into the "notes" section on the ipad.  And so... with photos inserted, here is his first blogpost!
:-)


http://carter-johnson.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-trip-to-paris.html

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Barrel Garden

In rows of threes, ten half-barrels line the driveway.  When filling them with loads of sand, clay, manure and black earth was more than a one day job.  We planted beans, zucchini, carrots, pumpkins, egg plants, and even have one herb barrel.  The ornate iron sides of a gazebo that lost its top in the wind were dragged up to the barrels.  When I left Bonnie was going to prop the ironwork up so that the beans could crawl up its sides.  David and she got that done, but when it came to weeding they couldn’t tell which of the plants were the beans and which were weeds, so she took 5 samples down to Glen’s house so he could identify them for her.

“I will show you how to tell,” he said, “by observing in nature”.  Glen took Bonnie over to Wyona’s garden and showed her that every sample Bonnie had brought to him, was growing there – weeds get away on people who are not living on the land, as well as on those of us who plant nothing in the barrels.  Now knowing that she had built the trellis around a barrel of weeds, she moved the ironworks over one barrel.

“Are you tying your beans up,” a friend asked her, “they are growing so well”.

“No, I didn’t have to tie them up.  My job was just to find the barrel that the beans were in.”

Naomi's Pre-Party Plans

Last night Naomi and I made little fabric gift bags to give to her friends at her party on Satruday.  It will be a unicorn, pegasus and marble party.  We will play games with marbles and the kids will get to take marbles home in the bags we made for them.  They have a ribbon drawstring that Naomi has laced beads onto.  She loves her crafts. 

A Note from Elizabeth Davies to the Pilling Family

First of all, Hello from Arta,

I took a few trips to the auditorium to stand in the line-up for the Wicked lottery, a chance for 20 people to buy tickets for $25 right in the orchestra (about row D and F).  I met an old friend there, Elizabeth Davies.  She had come up from Magrath for the same show and was hoping to get a ticket in the orchestra.  Neither of us were lucky enough to have our names drawn, but we did get an hour together and after that meeting she wrote a lovely e-mail note to Moiya and me, one about our parents.  I am sharing one of the 2 notes she sent below.  Enjoy.

“I want to share some happy pieces of my life with you. I woke up thinking of them. No one encouraged journals except for missionaries as I grew up. Too bad I didn't think of it myself! I have an extensive journal during that year and a half in Vancouver and Victoria that I spent on a mission, but no other record till Roger went on his mission. I did write spasmodically over the years after Dale died but it is sketchy.  (I hadn't realized meeting you would trigger so many of my memories, so you'll have to skim all this clutter).  Now a journal entry from my memory has been triggered by my meeting with Arta, which I am sure was not by chance.
Arta, you are so much both your parents- you just triggered so many happy Doral and Wyora memories for me.
You stopped right in the middle of everything and invited me to your home. Miraculously I had an unscheduled hour to wait for the play and you drove me over to your home. I mentioned Erva Sherwood and you turned right around and knocked on her door. That was so much like your mom- she went out of her way constantly for everyone. I treasure the visit with Kelvin and am so sorry he is not well. You just stopped your life and let me in- drinking cranberry juice from a lovely wedding goblet you still cherish. Thank you.
I remember Wyora's time in the Relief Society Presidency. She told me that when she was called to the job, she cried all the way home as she walked from the Crescent Road chapel. She had no idea how she could find time. I don't know if Glen was already born or if she was expecting him.
I didn't have time for Relief Society. I had two wild little boys and Relief Society was in the middle of the week. I didn't drive and Dale had the car all day at school anyway. Relief Society was for old ladies and I was young. Wyora gently enlisted my help. “Elizabeth, could you phone these ladies for me. I have a lot to do to get my family cared for in the morning, but if you load up my car I'll pick up these sisters and their children and take them to the meeting.” How could I refuse? This lady would give me the shirt off her back! Reluctantly I became a Relief Society sister, even if it was for elderly ladies. I would phone and when she came for me I told her who was coming.
Luckily in the olden days seat belts were unheard of and we piled those children and sisters into her car and had a great visit to and from the meeting. We were first there and last to leave but my week always went better. I remember when she taught the theology lessons. She made mammoth charts and I always felt inspired when I heard her lesson and realized she lived everything she ever tried to teach me. She later confided in me that all her car trips had wrecked the springs in the car. I wonder how they held out as long as they did.
The Relief Society offered to quilt for any sisters who wanted to do a quilt. Where else to do them but Wyora’s? She had the most time and biggest heart and her living room was bigger than most. Actually there were lots of bigger houses, but we always seemed to use hers. I had made two little bunk bed matching quilt tops. I brought them to Wyora’s the night before with my batting. By the time I got there next day with the lunch, she had already put one on the frames and somehow managed to make the first round on it. Obviously she had more spare time than the rest of us.
She had a shower for everyone and we all felt very much at home in your home. Of course Wyona's memorable bridal shower was the most vivid memory as your dad had such fun, in the kitchen, cutting up the a deer he had just shot while we enjoyed the elegant lunch and visiting in the living room.
I remember her story of having Bob Walker to dinner when he became a doctor in Calgary. Your dad felt she was being too perfect or something, so he tripped her as she brought the gravy in and the formal dinner suddenly evaporated into real life.  My sense of humour is not so hot for I would not have been able to laugh about this memorable experience, but she did.
When Roger was a baby we didn't have baby showers- there were so many new babies we would have gone broke on gifts. I had nice gifts for Roger but he soon outgrew the baby things. Garage sales were unheard of and there was no Desert Industries or thrift stores around like we take for granted now. I had no relatives there to hand down clothes but one day Wyora appeared at the door. She was the soul of tact. Would I be able to use any of these little boy clothes? Someone had asked her to distribute them. We all considered ourselves too proud to accept charity but we were all struggling. I am still amazed at how sweetly she helped me realize I would be doing her a favor if I could make use of them. When we went to Utah for Dale's masters degree I was DI's best customer and they had yard sales then, but I will never forget those clothes she brought me. Probably Glens come to think of it.  Thanks Glen
We only went to the lake once with the children. We were on the way to visit Dale's brother in Nanaimo. We had all five children by then and stayed overnight. I was amazed at those cabins, and at the joy they gave so many people who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity for a vacation. It was the first time I had had whipped cream and fresh strawberries on pancakes for breakfast. I still remember all the fun the Pilling kids were having there.
Our last time at the lake was the weekend Dale died. I had just lost Richard, our last baby. He was born in early February and was stillborn at eight months. I now realize I was in depression for some time because I had no desire to go anywhere. In March people kept saying “You need to go see Wyora, she's not going to be here much longer.” I kept putting it off. I just couldn't face much or seem to cope. I wish I had gone, but I know she'd forgive me. At her funeral I sat in the choir and watched all the people she had touched file in. I remember George and Fern Kelly that I hadn't seen for years, but they were there for her. There were so many others.
By May I was just starting to feel my old self again and the Men’s Chorus trip to Vernon was our first outing in a long time. They sang Friday and we had all day Saturday to just walk around the shore and take in the beauty of that happy place. I hadn't been anywhere without five little souls trailing behind and we had that beautiful day all to ourselves. I didn't realize then that day was to say goodbye. I've never been back to the lake again, but it was such a beautiful chance to be together. I spent that night in hospital and Melchin's brought me back to Calgary the next day.
The Lord just picked me up and carried me. He blessed me with five easy children to raise.  My brother Cam lived with us three years till he married and two years after that we moved to Magrath. My parents were a block away and were such a blessing in helping raise my children. The whole town helped. I married Theran Olsen seventeen years after Dale died. The children by then were all out of high school and three were married. We had fifteen happy years together before he passed away in 2001. I served a mission twice in Salt Lake at the family history library for a total of four and a half years and manage to keep busy here in Magrath now where three of my children live. Actually it takes twice as long to do anything so I am able to occupy my time.
Wyora always maintained the hill behind their house was planted with children’s shoes, at least one from each pair. She spent a lot of time hunting them, especially looking for the shoes her children should be wearing to church on Sunday. That magic house was able to expand to welcome everyone who came by or who needed a place to stay.
We stayed there several days . We were going to Edmonton to summer school our first year of marriage and had three days till we needed to leave. We'd had to move from our apartment as it was re-rented. She invited us over on the pretence that I could help Rita a bit with her reading.  I don't know who got moved out of their room to let us stay there, but I doubt if it was the first or last time. Anyway, thanks again, Pilling kids. You were a flexible bunch. 
I heard a little about Arta's but not enough. 
 Much love,
Elizabeth Davies Olsen
P.S. I'd like to know more about your lives and children.

Gardening in B.C.

There is no lack of jobs to do around the yard.  David’s new apple tree is so laden with fruit that it needs to be tied to a pole to keep its branches aloft.  The roots of the new grape vine are intertwined with chick week, daisies and Douglas aster.  Two of the garden barrels that didn’t have vegetables planted in them are thick with volunteer greens, none of which can be eaten.  The ground under the roses of the front gardens are strewn with petals from the beating those bushes took over two consecutive hail storms.  The lilies are made of stronger stuff and remain standing, a block of orange and brown speckled colour.  

 I was sure I had planted something in the east garden but when I walked along it – the place that I left carefully tended four weeks ago, is thick with growth, all of which I identified as weeds.  I did see what I thought might be one surviving begonia and on my knees, carefully pulling out the weeds around it, I began to find surviving geraniums hidden under the weed ground cover.  Joaquim was pleased to tell me that the compost pile down by the barrels, the pile that I cover with an old black trampoline cover, is no longer weeds, but good earth.  I went to check it out.  Putting a fine grate over a wheel barrow, I ran the earth through a rough sieve. Joaquim carried out 10 wheel barrow loads of composted black gold to be spread around the garden beds on the road side of the house.  “The wheel barrows are easier to transport if they are not quite as full,” he advised.  What was I thinking of?  The loads were three times the weight of anything I could have lifted.

I checked out the Devil’s Club that is growing by the stream. At that spot, each year the plant is adding a little bit of height to its stalk. I am happy about that.  Though I haven’t thrown grass down on the path I cleared on the east side of the Meadow Reach of the stream this spring, there is enough other growth there that the area needs to be mowed.

There is so much rain this year, that I haven’t pulled the hoses out of the garage.  Even this morning, there is a light drizzle with the forecast – thunder and rain today, rain tomorrow and rain the next day.  An unusual summer all the B.C. residents say – rain keeps falling.  There are mosquitoes everywhere and an opportunity every day to wear bug repellent.  I practise the skill of seeing if I can swat the mosquito before it draws blood. The tally is about one for one – for every dead mosquito there is another that gets away with a free lunch.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Biker Festival

Sturgis North, The First Annual Canadian Biker Festival; the venue, Salmon Arm's Fair Grounds:

    • the price for one day, $120, 
    • for the whole festival, $500; 
    •  for all B.C. residents from Chase to Sicamous with picture ID and address, priceless (that is, free for the first day).

    Bonnie, David, Gabe Treleaven and I lined up for our wrist bands and we tried to make it to the fair grounds for the 11:30 stunt riders.  We missed them by just a few minutes, so we hung around for the day, waiting for the 3:45 pm show, figuring out exactly which of the bleachers we would sit in the best view.


    Biker at Intersection of TCH and Bernie Road
    One barrel of popcorn, one Styrofoam dish of French fries, one blue and another green snow cone, one diet coke and the lunch we packed did not disappoint us while we were waiting for the prime festival draw for us.  We saw the stunt riders go down the street with their motorcycles perpendicular to the pavement, riding only on their back wheel, and then to return with the same stunt, but this time with only the front wheel on the road.  One rider sat on his motorcycle and made it do a full circle, the front wheel not moving at all and the back one spinning him around in a perfect circle.  Another sat on the pavement, only his back wheel spinning and white smoke billowing out of his exhaust pipes three times the height of his motorcycles and ten times the length of it. The result? A tire with virtually no tread, only bare threads holding the air still in the remaining tire. The miracle? No blow-out.

    When the applause from the crowd died down, all of us moved over to the other bleachers to watch the Canadian Champion Motorcross Stunt Rider and his colleague whom he introduced as the future Canadian Student Rider.  They drove their motorcycles up a ramp and then off the motorcycles went, arcing through the air and coming down on another ramp.  They upped the dramatic effect of their jumps, riding with their feet on the handle bars, then with only their hands on the handle bars and their bodies in a superman position, the bikes flying beneath them, and finally flying through the air, no hands and no feet anywhere near the bikes.
    “Coming back tomorrow for even more tricks,” were their final words to us – as well as “meet us over in the tent where we will sign autographs, and have pictures, hats, DVDs, and t-shirts for you to purchase”.

    Bands played at the bandstand: Blue Woods, James Shepherd, Robin Brock, Malibu Nights, March Hare, Doug and the Slugs, Jerry Doucette, and Dr. Hook (featuring Ray Sawyer).  Even though the tickets were free to residents, they did not come out in droves.  The four of us made up one third of the crowd listening to Blue Woods – plenty of room for us to dance in the Moshe Pit.  Gabe is good – between his private tap lessons and the music teacher at school who does hip-hop every noon for any child who wants to come, he is a nine-year old star.  David gets his moves from the dance sequence in the movie, Annie, so he spends quite a bit of time on the ground.  I am stuck with moves from the ‘60’s and Bonnie from the ‘80’s.  The two of us exchanged looks over the tune “Reefer-head Woman”, a song that acknowledges God’s hand in creating the ultimate woman. It was not a song I was familiar with from listening to CBC’s Radio 2 - Canadian Music every morning from 6 a.m to 9 a.m., where I have been trying to learn the names of famous tunes and national bands. We also got to hear a song with the loudest word being “cocaine”. Bonnie altered the lyrics for her young listeners to be “we don’t use cocaine”.

    The six child-friendly inflatable play stations were next to empty, so Gabe and David had a lovely afternoon, running from one to the other, occasionally returning to the knoll from which we were watching them, to have a drink of water or to tell what fun they were having. David showed us how to cool off your head. He poured half his water bottle contents into his baseball cap, and then slipped it onto his head. I had to slip back out to the car to bring in the backpack full of food.  On returning the security guard asked, “What is in your backpack?”

    “Peanut butter sandwiches, juice and the raspberry bran muffins I made this morning.”

    “We are supposed to look for guns,” said the security officer.

    “I don’t mind slipping this off my back so you can have a good look,” I replied.

    “Never mind,” he responded. “You don’t look like the type to carry a gun.”

    “I don’t even know how to shoot one.”

    “You could learn,” he called after me.

    My favourite T-shirt slogan was “When the gates of hell are full, the tattooed will walk the earth.”

    My favourite overheard conversation, “Nice festival, but not much violence.”

    My favourite booth: “Photographs -- $100 sitting fee gets you a 15 minute photoshoot, a 15 minute consultation and an 8 ½ x 11 photograph shipped free to your home address.”  The larger-than-life photographic advertisement was a close-up of a woman’s face, leaning on the shoulder of a well muscled, colourfully tattooed, clean shaven (both face and head) motorcyclist.

    The name of my favourite motorcycle: Eyecandy

    We came home to drop the boys off and go back to hear the bands at night but the heavens rained down hail and so that is about it for 1st Annual Sturgis North / All Make Motorcycle Rally, Outdoor Trade Show & Music Festival in Salmon Arm, B.C.,  billed as “the largest rally of its kind in Canada with the biggest rock reunion that stands the test of time”.

    Gabe and David counted bikes on the TransCanada Highway on the home. Gabes final count? 354 bikes. For those of you who miss the 80s, the music in the Canadian Superstore today was a mixed tape of ZZ-top, Mick Jagur, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Doug and the Slugs, and others, and to Bonnie’s surprise, she knew most of the lyrics.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Calgary Stampede, Part II

    Click on the Calgary Stampede Stock Dog Link to see a picture of my absolutely favourite moment at the Calgary Stampede today.  

    Mati, Amir and I sat down in the Saddledome, for me, more to rest than anything else, and there, in front of us, was the most charming competition in the form of the World Stock Dog Championships. 

    A handler with a shepherd’s crook stands in a circle and coaches his companion / dog as it tries to get three ewes to do a pre-set course in four minutes or less: going through a gate, moving through the middle of some barrels and lastly into a gated pen, which the handler opens for the last part of the course.

    In a heartbeat I would go back and watch this competition every day at the grounds. The dogs are so smart as they interact with the sheep, sometimes just by crouching beside them, sometimes swinging out in huge circles around the sheep, so as not to scare them. 

    The audience joyfully breaks out into spontaneous applause when the dog handles a clever manoeuvre.

    The announcer was a joy to listen to – his descriptions of the dogs made me so charmed by each of the animals by the time they left the ring.  The genuine admiration for the dog and handler in the announcer’s voice was compelling.   “A hobby,” he said, as he described the hours (really days) of training given the dogs.

    A treasure to watch at the Calgary Stampede.

    Calgary Stampede, Part I

    Family Day at the Stampede includes a pancake and sausage breakfast, free entrance into the grounds, and on the Grandstand Stage, the music of the Heebee Jeebees (whose harmonies were outstanding) -- and all of this before 9 am.  On entrance to the grounds Mati, Amir and I found the breakfast line-up, and then had to walk 15 minutes to reach the end of it, at which time, we snaked our way back to its beginning and entered the sacred gates to our receive our breakfast, which lived up to its billing of flat and free.

    The charm of that early morning exercise for the 3 of us was watching how many volunteers it takes to feed breakfast to 20,000 people: volunteers giving out tickets to the breakfast at the 2 Stampede entrance gates, people holding signs to show where the end of the line is,  others along the way coaching those who were flagging with ‘the line is just around the corner, ... you are just about there’.  People were frying pancakes, grilling sausage cakes – one woman holding a syrup bottle upside down and giving a healthy squirt of it to anyone who trusted her to put it on their plates.

    Stampede Like a Pro is the name of the book that is pre-delivered to every home in Calgary, tempting young cowboys and cowgirls to the grounds again with dreams of mini-donuts, or thoughts of winning a dream home, or just the reality of entering the agricultural tent to see the beautiful farm animals.  There are 17 different breeds of horses on display.  The Clydesdales are bigger each year, the quarter horses better groomed ... and the miniature donkeys smaller than the year before.

    I was tempted by a first for me.  In the agricultural tent, the University of Calgary Veterinary School had a model of the back end of a cow, the last ¼ of the cow, at least, complete with legs and cowhide.  All who stopped to admire the model received the verbal invitation to reach into the anus of the cow and feel the head of a calf that was ready to be born. 

    Weird I thought, and ... added in my mind, who would do that. Then I saw Dr. Mati lining up, rolling up his sleeve and getting ready to take a try at seeing if he could identify the head of the calf about to be born by feeling around inside. 

    I was not going to have that happen without being in line right behind him.

    Yes, the Calgary Stampede.

    Always something new at the show.

    Arta

    PS.  If you want some of the old look of the music on the grounds, check out the Stampede band nostalgia on the Paladin's  blog today.

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Rural Life


    Rural Life is full of unexpected things for me today.

    I am still wrapping my mind around finding the Robin's nest empty. No sign of male, female, or juvenile robins around. I found some broken egg shells under the nest. I am willing myself to believe the three baby birds lived and those are the shells that they made their way out of and then tossed out to make more room as they grew. I am having to work hard to will that belief.

    Another surprise for me today was how gorgeous and accessible Sicamous Falls are from the Lake. My friend, who is 37 weeks pregnant, dropped by to take me there for a short hike. She said she is walking slow, but she goes just the right pace for me.

    First we went to the dump to try to see the Marmots. That was my suggestion. She laughed out loud and said "sure". How wonderfullly rural! No Marmots were seen, but the view of Mara Lake made up for the second time animals were not where I expected them to be.

    We stopped half-way back down Two Mile road after that and went for the short hike to see Sicamous Falls. There were at least three places where the decent is enough that there is a perceptible drop in temperature. Just right on a hot day. The water in the stream was much icier than the Lake temperature right now. The mosquitoes were out in droves. The sound of the Fall made conversation difficult, but the beauty of the walk made conversation unnecessary. The moss and the mushrooms caught our eyes after we had stared at the Falls long enough.

    The final part of our tour was to check out the barrel garden at Arta's. I just can't believe the zuccini plants actually have zuccini on them. The green peppers, dusky eggplant, pumpkin, and cucumbers all have enormous leaves and are flowering. The tomatoe plants have cute tiny green tomatoes on them. The pole beans have wound their tendrils so many times up the trellis they would be hard to take down. And lest yhou feel jealous, know I also have one barrel that is just weeds, with one common weed winding its tendrils up a tomatoe wire basket I left and forgot to pick up. Yes, the good and the bad, all growing away with minimal tending on our part. When I moved here and was bragging about our strawberries someone said to me, "You are in the Shuswap. If you put a shovel in the ground and leave it, even it will grow."

    Happy gardening to all

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Wicked, 2 wicked.

    Miranda and I saw wicked again. We saw it first in London. It was so good that we chose to skip Xmas presents and save for tickets when it came through Calgary. We bought 3 sets of tickets. 4x2x2. We went with the Kotkas's on Wednesday.

    Our second round was tonight. It was so good that I'm wanting to skip round 3. I don't see how they can get better then perfect. Miranda went into the "lottery" with her mom. Apparently you can sign up for the daily "lottery" and get tickets for 25 bucks. Miranda's parents won that lottery. So we all went together today. We spent $150 a ticket. Miranda's parents got the same seats for 25 bucks a piece.

    I'm a little miffed that they get to go to a perfect performance of the best musical I've seen, sitting in second row, for only 25 bucks each... nothing's perfect.

    A Day in Alberta

    Every day an adventure!

    Even in Alberta.

    My idea of beginning each day the right way is to take an early morning walk in Centennial Park, where I have been seeing the cottonwood trees, their branches loaded with soft white wool and the ground beneath them looks as though it has had a summer snowstorm brush along its path.

    But my own yard is different.

    No summer storm of cottonwood fluff here.

    I am having the pay-off from planting a peony bush twenty years ago, and then watching it mature every year.

    Now I pick 10 blossoms like this every day, and in two days there are another ten in bloom and so on.

    The tables and counters upstairs and downstairs are full of bouquets.

    As well, a few summers ago, fearing that I might not get out to the lake in time to enjoy the daisies each year, I tucked some seeds into an envelope and brought them back to Alberta,  spreading them alongside my driveway in a dry, gravelly and seemingly infertile place.

    So though I haven't made it out to the lake this year, when I get out of my car and pass by this little spot, a smile comes over my face.  I am going to get out to the lake soon ... and I am not missing the daisies.

    I am still going to have the best of both worlds, though the time when there is a large lake added to the mix is coming a little later this year.

    I cannot imagine why the best part of my day was going to the bottle depot.

    I don't know if it is the pleasure of recycling with a cash payout, or if I like the trip because I imagine myself on the other side of the counter, twisting the caps off of bottles or showing customers which plastic food containers can be recycled and which ones can't be recycled.

    Today the sounds of the 7 cubicles, each with glass and tin crashing against each other, made me wonder why a musician has not added those sounds to a modern composition, ... the title "Opus 1: Local Bottle Depot" doesn't sound concert worthy, I admit.

    Still, I stood there wondering if I would add some pizzicato violins and a sonorous cello melody to go with the sharp, crackling timpani I was hearing

    By the time I had dumped 4 or 5 garbage bags of assorted pop cans and wine bottles onto the counter, and helped unscrew the bottle caps or placed the containers in their correct boxes, I was also wondering why only a few of the workers wear gloves that protect their hands from broken glass for without gloves.

    I do the work carefully and more slowly than they do and still come away with a few scratches.

    My hands are still wet with that syrupy, sticky feeling, long after I have the cash in my purse.

    On a day when the sun is so hot, I can feel my palms sticking to the steering wheel as I turn the corner, and I am still thinking of a melody to attach to the bottle depot.

    Arta

    My wrap up

    Three things surprised me on the cruise.

    The first surprise was that I  could order room service for breakfast -- at no cost.  At the appointed hour, there came breakfast – whatever my heart had desired and my pencil had checked (plus a few other items added by Wyona). There it was on the tea-tray, wheeled in at the appointed hour.  Then Wyona showed me how to take the lids off of every tray, one by one until there was no room left in our 4th floor cabin space.  That is when I burst out laughing. 

    Holy cow! 

    All that food, all of those dishes, and no place in the cabin to sit and eat it once it is unpacked. 

    Now I understand why Wyona is negotiating with the Royal Caribbean for a balcony on the next cruise.  We need the space so we can order breakfast in.

    My second cruising surprise came when Wyona and I were exchanging pleasantries at mealtime with some couples who were at the same table with us, and in response to some question, I heard myself say, “Oh no.  We are sisters.  We have husbands.  We just left them at home.”

    The next question was, “And how do they feel about that?”  

    Sassy!

    I am always afraid of what Wyona is going to say in surprise turns-of-conversation.  She came through sounding like an angel.   “Well, my husband was quite happy that I was going, since he wanted to stay home and do some maintenance work on the house.  He did made me promise to take this cruise a second time, the next time with him.”  Mmm.  Maybe it is Greg who came out sounding like an angel.

    Now there is a hard promise to keep.  She is going to have to go on the Baltic Cruise again when what she really wants to do next time is see the fiords.

    My reply was easier. “My husband has limited mobility and is thrilled that I can get out and do things.” 

    I told Kelvin later, "I wonder what people thought I would say.  Oh, I left my husband at home, madder than a hatter.  He wants to me stay at home with my face turned to the wall so I will have no fun."

    He said, "No, your reply was just fine." 

    My third general surprise is how little time there is in my day, even when someone else is making my bed, preparing my food for me, and doing all of my cleaning.  I was thinking about that fact this morning when I was making my own omelet for breakfast.  The chives and green peppers were sticking a bit when I was taking the food out of the pan and the thought crossed my mind, “This wouldn’t be sticking if  you had put the same amount of oil in the pan to fry the batter in, that you saw the cook put in the pan when you watched him make your omelet-to-order on the boat.”

    Yes.   I just about had a heart-attack just from seeing how much oil went into the pan.

    That is just about the best reason I know that a person should cruise less often.   

    Cruising -- hard on the arteries!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Steve is gone! ... and the family blog is up....

    So.... steve is now on the way to London!

    Duncan and I dropped him and his bags off at the airport. He should be flying over the water between Victoria and Vancouver as we speak! We also have the official "Our Family is on Sabbatical in London" blog up and running (you can see it on the side of the larch haven blog.... feel free to follow it if you will!)

    Five more days, and the rest of us Carter-Johnsons will be in the air!

    Yee hah!!!!!

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    More Baltic Cruise - Last Day on Board

    We stayed up late last night to go under the long bridge again, the one that takes people from Denmark to Denmark, but in reality takes them to another country more quickly.  There was little wind on deck.  It was late, but still light enough to see the jagged silhoutte of the land in the distance, the lights of half-tons as they rolled across the bridge, and the concrete pylons flashed back to the water, the glare from the splotlights that were on them.


    Wyona and I had been soaked on our first trip under that bridge.  The rain was falling, and try as we might (by standing on deck chairs under overhang of the floor above) all of the passengers were wet.  The Irish were singing songs we didn’t know and the Brits joining in.  They asked us for a Canadian song to sing.  I couldn’t think of one off hand … until I remembered teaching new ones to Mary’s kids this winter when I stayed with them.  Of course – “Four Strong Winds” – hard to get more Canadian than that and all of them knew the song.  There was even part singing, thanks to Wyona.


    I walked the same deck we were standing on that night, but in the morning and not with any impulse to drive my steps forward. A long morning walk.  I stopped to look over the starboard side at the islands as they passed by.  Then I stood on the bow to see if I could find a way to turn my back to the wind so that I could both see ahead and backward and not be windblown. 


    A small sign on the side of the ship reminded me that that six laps around the track make a mile and I count the first six, then the next six, but on each way around, when I pass a ship that says Goteborg on its prow I wonder if I have done a couple of loops without counting, for I am busy watching the seagulls pick up fish that the engine of the ship has churned to the top of the water.


    A thirteen story building proudly holds a sign that says Volvo.  Containers full of cars line the dock, as well as about 120 Volvo’s lined up in groups of 20 on the dock.  The Volvo museum is a five minute walk from the gang plank.  “Who would want to see a museum full of old cars,” Wyona and I hear a woman complain to her husband on her return from the museum.”And we didn’t need to hire a bus or have a tour guide.  It was right across the street,” she went on to say.


    Wyona and I didn’t leave the ship that day for we were so tired.


    “Did you stay on your beds and rest?”, Bonnie Wyora asked.


    Heavens no!   
    That is not what we do when we are tired. The ship was empty since so many people had taken tours. Wyona and I went from floor to floor, lingering to look at the art work on the walls where the stairs turn on each flight and read the accompanying artist’s statements.  We never get a chance to do that when people are walking up and down the stairs, obstructing our view. 


    We rode the glass elevator, looking at the water-fall installations that are 6 stories high.


    We tried the line-dance class and then came back to the cabin to practise the steps we had learned.  I write down the moves, but Wyona makes me put down the pencil and practise.  Sachet, sachet, heel, heel, toe toe, heel-toe-stomp-stomp, heel-toe-stomp-stomp and that is where I get mixed up.  Just before grape-vine to the left starts. for we have switched legs. 


    I practise at 20 minute intervals, dropping the packing we are starting to do and work again on heel-toe-stomp-stomp. 


    We are going to teach this to our grandchildren, at least those we can manage to corral, for it will be a lot of fun at the next wedding, or baptism, or seasonal holiday celebration. 


    The money that is being sorted out between us has to go in different envelopes for this is the last day to use any of that currency: the euros, the pounds, the Canadian dollars, and then we sort out the train tickets back from Harwich to London and the plane tickets to go back home. 


    We have lunch in the Windjammer, a buffet style restaurant.  I take along my handout from the Bridge Lesson about “Defensive Signalling”, still excited to find that there are other ways to tell one’s partner the contents of my hand, other than by humming, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”


    We are doing two on-board-ship shows tonight.  The same show really, catching MoTown, not once but twice.  Last night was a Tango Duo: Luciano & Rocio.  Our friends at dinner aren’t really fans of dance, saying it was good, but a little two much Argentinian tango.  One tango dance would have been enough they said, though they had no idea what they wanted to see on the rest of the programme.  Of course that made me laugh.  The programme was billed as Argentinean Tango.  They didn’t like the night before, either:  ABBA Night.  Their complaint about that was there were only 5 ABBA songs.  

    Too much tango.  Not enough ABBA.  I don’t care either way because I am enjoying everything.


    Now, that was a restful day.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Whispering Grasses Pathway

    Art Work at Whispering Grasses: "Crenellated Habitat" by Tony Bloom
    Charise and I took a walk today to see if we could walk to the overpass that takes joggers over John Laurie and onto the paths and trails of Nose Hill.

    We walked for a ½ hour and at that point, when both of us were tired, and not having come to the bridge, we said, “Ten minutes more. Just ten minutes more and then we will turn back if we haven’t got to the junction of Brisbois and John Laurie.

    The bridge was just around the next corner

    We had time to cross over the Whispering Grasses Pathway and set foot on Nose Hill. The entrance to the bridge is beautiful -- art work called Crenellated Habitat which “consists of two curved panels placed at each end of the pedestrian bridge which create a curved funnel on the concrete approach. Images that relate to the natural environment of the site were applied into the curved surfaces using sandblasting, grinders, inscribers, scalars, plasma cuts and layering”. Charise laughed when she spotted the images of a bison on one panel and then a bird on another when we stopped to observe their shimmering silver beauty.  We hung out on the bridge to watch the hawks perched on top of the light standards, and we watched the ravens chase each other through the sky.

    On the way home we took shortcuts through alleys and down ivy covered lanes that separate the  houses in Charleswood.  “This feels like Belgium,” said Charise, and I had to agree that there was an old-world charm just at the end of her own alley.

    Charise and I chatted on about her ongoing desire to have an Alberta Wild Rose Bush growing in her yard. Last year she collected rose hips and planted them in the front flower bed at Chisholm. No luck with germination. Today we gathered up Zoe and headed out to Golden Acres, where they had sold out their rose called “Nearly Wild”. Charise settled for another small bush.

    Luckily we had followed the golden rule of gardening: prepare the spot before you buy the plant. So on returning home we could congratulate ourselves with a morning well spent: an invigorating walk and a rose bush planted by the front porch.