Saturday, October 29, 2011

First Frost

The long awaited first frost has come, and hence the apple picking has begun. David's tree yeilded 9 apples (plus the one that the deer tried and rejected makes 10). His tree is a Liberty Apple. According to Orange Pippin, it is a modern American variety developed for disease resistence. I agree with their description that it has
... red skin and juicy flesh. The flavor is well balanced, perhaps sharper than many of the Mac-related varieties but still with the characteristic vinous note

When looking for an explanation of what `vinous` meant, I found Adam`s Apples website. In short, vinous means it shares the `depth and complexity`found in some wines. And for the non-wine drinkers, I would say that means the flavour is strong without being overpowering, and like a delicous chocolate filling, it keeps you coming back for more to see if the fondant maker really added two or three flavours or if that is just in you imagination.

Glen claims there will be no wide-scale apple picking for him this year. Rather, he plans to enjoy an apple directly from the branches of the many trees to chose from at Larch Haven, when the desire strikes. Those of us who are only on our third apple season at Annis Bay are trying to leave some on every tree which means curbing the desire to strip the trees bare.

We are in apple heaven!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Death and Football (american style!)

Go on my own or not?...
Harold Pinter Theatre
This week, the big question was whether or not to head off to see Ariel Dorfman's play "Death and the Maiden".  Well... it wasn't exactly a question.  I have been teaching the movie version of the play for years in the law/film class, but have never actually SEEN the play version.  How could I NOT go?!  The question was really whether or not to take the kids along with me.  Well... the play (which is all about finding justice in the aftermath of torture) did have a "not appropriate for 12 and under" warning on it.  So... I got a ticket for the afternoon matinee, and just went on my own.  Actually, I think it might be the first time in my life that I have gone of to the theatre on my own.  Now that I have jumped that hurdle, I can imagine that it will not be the last time!  :-)

The play was great (and if you want to read a great piece on the film/play, check out my friend Orit's article, which you can find at It was starring Thandie Newton in the role of Paulina (you may know her as Libby in the film Run Fatboy Run).  Such fun to see how it played out on the stage instead of on the screen.   The theatre was also quite lovely. I was saddened by all the "no photography" signs in the theatre, but you can see a ton of pictures of the theatre on the Arthur Lloyd website!

Rembrandt at 34
Rembrandt at 63
Well.... after indulging the fan side of me in a matinee performance at the theatre, I thought I would stroll over to the National Gallery, and say hello to a few paintings before heading home. This time, I had fun moving back and forth between two of Rembrandt's self portraits, one of him as a man of 34 , the other of him at 63 (the two paintings are in rooms next door to each other).

After that, I headed out the front door of the National Gallery, to discover that there were plenty more fans out for the day:  this time time, fans of the NFL. Yes... it was "fan day" in celebration of the upcoming football game between the Bears and the Pirates.

St. Martin's in the Fields
Most of Trafalgar Square was blocked off, and there was a giant inflatable bear set up alongside a pirate ship complete with skelton on the prow.   I will say that they seemed a bit bizarre mixed in with the more traditional view of the four lions and Lord Nelson atop his perch!  There was also a stage set up with live performers, and a large video screen to make sure that everone could get a good view of the musicians.  I guess the square was providing something for everyone:  the sounds of drums pulsing from the square, with St. Martin's providing a different kind of music off to the left!  :-)

Google Search: Doral Pilling

I just spent the last few minutes completing a Google search about Grandpa Pilling.  Try it yourself.  I was surprised that mine yielded several results including a 'Doral Piling' Facebook page with a quick piece of information about him going to the Olympics in 1928!  Did one of you create this?  Funny that a man who died so many years ago has a Facebook page.

Here are the most interesting links I found:

(They don't have a picture posted.)

Add anymore links below in a comment or add a new post.  Very interesting information.  I am passing all of work to a professor at the University of Manitoba who studies sport history and was intrigued that in 1928 when few people went to the Olympics, Doral, my grandfather did.  Great to share a history and pass on information to others.  Good luck with your own search.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cruising Pictures

While Arta and I were travelling in the Baltic Seas, we snatched a passerby to take a picture of us. It was such a beautiful sunset scene.
Then in October of 2011, Greg and Arta were out taking pictures of the sunrise on the Mediterranean Sea.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is indeed an amazing site. It rained for the two days we were in Istanbul. We were not deterred. We waited for an hour to get into the mosque.
Then while walking in Corfu we came upon this beautful small square with an old fashioned well.

An Exciting Bus Ride

On top of the "Hop-On Hop-Off"
Wyona, Greg and I rode the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus from the port to the city of Athens, perhaps a half hour drive.

I was busy taking pictures of the garbage in the streets before we had even left the pier.

The garbagemen have not been paid for 4 months

When the bus would drive by the piles of garbage, the stench was high and wafted to our nostrils, beating out the smell at any dump I have ever gone to.

Greek soldiers resting arms on their shields
Here are the riot police, standing by while a demonstration was going on in one of the squares.  Seeing the troops and the buses ready to take people away added to the surprise of trip.

The people who took the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus after us, got caught in the demonstration traffic, couldn't move, and a second bus had to be sent from the pier to rescue them from the gnarled traffic and get them back on board, as we sailed at 5:30 pm. 

Two crew and 4 passengers still didn't make it to the ship.

And who could resist buying bread from this little cart below.

I can tell you who.

All of the people who were at the rally across the street, singing songs of solidarity and complaining to the government about the Greek economy.  This merchant was not making much money.

The Greek economy is not looking that stable right now for him  ... and for others.


Amazing Barcelona

An Amazing Day from Mary
October 22, 2011

What was amazing today?  The landscape. I am not used to seeing ground that is so dry.  The beautiful trees are not familiar to me.   

The buildings?  I saw Gaudi, live.  Amazing ways of bringing the old architecture together with the new and --, amazing how the new references the old.   

The Hop On – Hop Off bus is the best way to see all of the different quarters of the city.  I wouldn’t have seen the more modern parts of Barcelona if I hadn’t gone on that bus.  

 Seeing the Roman ruins, built over 1000 years ago and still standing, that is amazing from the point of view of municipal infrastructure planning.  There is only one word for it.  An amazing day.

An Amazing Day from Arta

Mary and I passed by several gelato stores before she stopped at one that delivered a cone to her – the gelato, shaped in the form of a rose – the centre, mango, and the petals, pistachio. 

We saw a charming performance by a living statue dressed as the Mad Hatter, pouring out tea and dressed in impeccable Alice in Wonderland fashion.  We circled the Sagrada Familia and observed it from the outside – every face in a different style, the cool sleek lines of the west side and the traditional figures in the Nativity Scene of the East Side.  And the tree of life?  Seeing is believing – those green branches with doves sitting on them.

All of this, and jet-lack casting its shadow over us, between bus-stops at one of which we hopped out and took a long walk through Park Guell.
The fun continues.


Palermo, Sicily

Oct 20, 2011

We lazily enjoyed the lunch buffet before leaving the ship.  Not knowing if we were going to take the Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour Bus or walk the streets of Palermo on our own, we dressed accordingly, outfitted with coats and scarves as though our hair would be blowing in the wind at the top of a double-decker sight seeing bus.  The streets were inviting.  The shopping was interesting. Wyona and I slipped into a specialty shop, looking at the high end cashmere sweaters, priced at 219 Euros, then actually buying a silk red flower (2 Euros) for my hair at dinner tonight in the low end market. 

Greg took us by the Palermo Basilica.  Wyona loved the old worn wood of the gates and beams that have been there for centuries.  I liked the images of sea creatures embedded in the marble of the cathedral floor. Greg is the best tour guide, keeping track of the directions we are going and figuring out as we go, how we are going to retrace our steps.  This is our last stop of this first cruise.

As Greg said to me tonight – I go back and try to remember where we have been and what we have done, and it s not easy to keep everything in order.

I agree with him.


 ... standing at the Acropolis with Athens behind me
Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Galantine, Coq au Vin – you can’t fool me.   I have been eating a lot of chicken.  Now, the choice for supper?  Chicken again, but the idea of having it smothered in wine was enough to tempt me into ordering it.

I can't stop myself from enjoying the infinite variety. 

Wyona and Greg attended an elite buffet, since they are the charmed members of a club for people who cruise often.

I slipped off at the same time to my favourite of events that occur onboard:  the historical lecture on Greece.

The first slide included a famous painting of philosophers – Socrates, Plato, all of them gathered on the steps of a building, one figure lounging on the stairs.  “Knock me over,” I thought. “I know that picture.  I attended one hour lecture in Calgary that spotlighted only the reclining figure on the stairs.

I must have been preparing for tomorrow’s adventure into Athens for my whole life.”  Yes, there was Raphael’s School of the Philosophers.


Athens, the city where democracy was born. 

Greg and I spent the afternoon walking around the columns of the Acropolis and agreeing that it is not the structure itself, but what it represents – the belief that man can govern himself, the careful logic, the columns laid out so carefully that if you draw a line through all of them, at one place in the heavens, those lines will intersect. 

 ...looking down from the Acropolis on a Greek theatre... still my beating heart...
Is it the architecture, the literature, the math, the science, the medicine, the detailed attention, for the first time in the history of man, to the human body?   

Walking on the marble, stepping on the cobblestones,  -- I didn’t ever dream I would be standing near those sacred Greek pillars.   

Amazing.  Just amazing!

Last Day in Istanbul

Greg and I took off on our own for a five hour walk into Istanbul , first enjoying a leisurely brunch looking over the harbour in Istanbul, seeing tugs, ferries and large boats pass between the European and the Asian side of The City.  I ate Indonesian food from the ethnic buffet, some goren, the most memorable lime/chilli fish I have ever consumed and I made my way through a Malaysian soup, enjoying the taste of the anise seed whenever I would find one. I leaned over and said to Greg and Wyona and said, “Now this would be more than enough pleasure for one day of a person’s life.”

Greg and I had our umbrellas in hand and our raincoats our backs.  We marched smartly passed the other cruising ships and to the quay where fishermen stood side by side, sometimes shoulder to shoulder and sometimes one arm’s length away from each other – or even with 2 in the front and one casting in his line from behind them and over their heads to the water.  I looked at their feet and there was a white four litre pail full of fish.

“Look Greg, the bait.”  But I was to find out later – that was not the bait but the catch – tiny fish, still alive, some of them flipping out of the pail onto the cobblestones and then a fisher would stop to pick up two or three of the escapees and get them back into his pail.

Greg and I were on our way to the Spice Market.  A European Running Marathon had blocked all of the streets around the Harbour and they were not open until 2 pm, so we knew our time would be short.  We saw some local people running like crazy to a boat, and Greg said, “I think they are catching the local ferry.  Want to go for it?”

I am not one to say no, and the ticket taker spoke enough English to send Greg to the machines were he exchanged 4 Turkish lira for 2 red tokens.  He was ahead of me and onto the boat.  I had to be shown where to put the red token and was only barely across the gangplank when it was pulled up and the boat pushed off.

We sat on the top deck with the shoppers going home with their packages, or with the tourists who were taking pictures.  One local family had all of their old bread stored in such a bag and the mother, the teen-age daughter and the younger daughter were throwing the crumbs to the air and the gulls were swooping in to catch the food before it hit the water.  There must be messaging system similar to the iphone which I shall call the gullphone, for before long the sky was fll of gulls following our boat or flying to the side of the boat, keeping up with us, flying not more than an arm’s length over the railing.  When the boat stopped Greg and I went to get off, but I was slower than he going down the stairs and noticed that some passengers were still lounging on their inside chairs. “Greg, I think this boat has more than one stop.  Let’s just keeping going.”  

 And so we took the full round of the ferry, circling over to the Asian side with that quick half stop, and then back.  Once of that was not enough and we sat on the top deck, seeing the full glory of the Blue Mosque from aance – twice.  I would still be riding that ferry right now if Greg hadn’t insisted that we keep our forward motion alive.  But then remember, eating brunch and watching the harbour was enough for one day for me, and with the ferry, I knew we had already doubled my pleasure the day.

The third day-within-a-day happened under a bridge. While riding the trolley we had passed over a long bridge.  Walking that far was our initial goal, just giving ourselves a good stretch by walking. We were constantly puddle jumping or twisting our umbrellas to miss the umbrellas of the other passengers.  I know one Turikish word.  Hombre (pronounced as in a cowbowy movie), for that is the word that the umbrella sellers shouted from every corner in the rain.  As we walked through the underground pass to go onto the bridge, there was a Chinese market in full swing.  “A good thing Wyona is not here,” I said to Greg, “for the two of us would move on after seeing this.”

Past that market and above ground, were fish sandwiches being sold as fast as hamburgers – the grills out on barges and the clerks passing them out to shore as fast as the waiters could receive them and make an exchange of money. Greg bought a Texas donut sized bun.  Greek people seem to be buying grilled corn, the kernels blackened on a grill. before they are put in their hands.

So as not to get lost, we followed the tram line back to the Blue Mosque.  I paused at a restaurant where 2 older women dressed in white sat cross legged on cushions, rolling buns.  One of them was making a flat bread, rolling it many times, letting the bread relax, then rolling it again, and again, putting ground lamb, feta cheese and spinach on it, and then frying it slowly on a low flat grill that was four feet in diameter and only two feet off of the ground.  The shop keeper invited us in.  We said we would have to go home and get the third members of our party, maybe later in the evening.  He came out later, again saying, “You must come and stand inside.  The women who are rolling the buns are worried that you are getting cold.”  So I stood close by in the warmth of the restaurant.  By now Greg and I were wet – our shoes from the puddles and the legs of our trousers from the water that splashed up from the streets as the taxis and buses drove by.

By now I felt as though I was into the fifth day of touring turkey, looking in small shops, along the streets.  This time I stopped where three men wearing clear plastic cloves were scooping Turkish delights out of packages, shaking the icing sugar off of them, and lining them up in symmetrical rows, many rows high along one side of the shop.  On the other side of the shop were rows of exquisitely packaged spices, -- making the ones I have at home pale in desireability when I looked at the colours, the reds, ochres, yellows, saffrons, deep browns and steel grays.  We also stopped to look at the calf length women’s boots, knowing they were leather because I looked inside of them, but the decorated outsides were embroidered and the leather dyed in garish bright colours. A steep sidetreet, beckoned next with heavy tapestries overhanging low tables and the smell of Turkish tobacco reaching the streets.  Harem pants were for sale in all of the shops.

I watched a woman get a freshly squeezed glass of pomegranate juice.  I wanted a glass, so Greg pulled out a few Euros.  But he finished giving me a glass from the juice he has squeeze for the other woman, which was fine, but I wanted to see the squeezing process, more than drink the juice.  When I went back to take a look, the boy was running away from me.  I looked around and there were the police, which was a relief to me, since I knew I was not the one he was running from now.  But not a relief to the boy who was hiding his cart behind a van, his two look-outs signalling to the seller, how long he had to stay hidden – at least until the police van drove away. 


Istanbul --  “To the city”

“These are historic waters we are sailing through,” said Greg as he gazed from the balcony, onto the Aegean Sea.  He was waiting for Wyona to get her shoes on so that they could go to their dancing lessons – today is the rumba.  Wyona had bubble bathed all morning.  “Whenever am I going to have a bubble bath in a balcony suite on a boat, again,” she said to us as Greg and I hurried off to the destination lecture entitled Istanbul, not Constantinople.  I met the lecturer while standing in the specialty omelette line-up for breakfast.  “I enjoyed your lecture two days ago.  My brother-in-law and I were saying how we had wished your lecture had been longer when you talked about Corfu.” 

“It is difficult”, he said, “since I am only allowed 35 minutes of presentation time.  I submitted two lectures and the people on board choose the second one, so I have plenty of material.  But the problem on board is just that there are not enough rooms to run all of the programs people want.” 

The people who gathered around the lecturer post-presentation had questions to ask and answers to share.  Most agreed that the best source of information for a traveller is Rick Steven’s Guide to Istanbul, one man there having read 100 pages of it in another Rick Stevens book.  Greg and he went on to chat about good books to read about the history of the Golden Horn.  The lecture had covered the etymology of the name Istanbul, the best reading on it being that in Turkish it sounds a bit like “to the big city”, which would make sense given the rural roots of the people who  finally ended up living in the city.

That was the historic destination lecture.  Later in the morning and better attended was the shopping lecture, highlighting the way to purchase Turkish leather coats (lightweight for their cold winters of 70 degrees Fahrenheit), rugs, coffee (better at waking people up than Red Bull), apple tea, Turkish delight candy (created for a Sultan with a sweet tooth but no way to eat hard candy) and tourist paraphernalia, all decorated with the sign of the evil eye.  I am going to a market with 4009 shops and 16 entrances and exits, hoping I can buy at least one pashmina, a wool scarf that is so fine it will pass through the circle of a wedding ring.

I took my early morning walk.  The sun rose from behind the distant horizon and lifted its face over the right over the water in the time it took me to only walk one length of the boat. I will be that sun rose in less than to minutes.

We had been promised a stormy sea with high winds today.  I wanted to beat the turbulence and the water on the deck by getting up early.  The wind had already beat me to the deck. I had to lean forward to stand upright.  A few chairs slipped across the deck in front of me.  Some of the backs on the deck chairs banged forward. I casually wondered if I shouldn’t have brought a whistle with me, in case I was blown overboard.  Soon I was thinking of wearing a life jacket in case no one noticed I was gone for a few days. 

Wyona and I came back from the Turkish Grand Market without buying anything ... a sad comment on the shopping energy Wyona and I had.  Oh, that is not to say that we didn’t find a beautiful red silk scarf, wider than the usual scarves, but when we went back to get it, we couldn’t find that shop again.  That is what is wrong with shopping in a place where there are 4009 shops.  Not that there are that many kinds of shops – there was leather (coats, purses, shoes), gold, diamonds, silver, ceramics and the usual tourist paraphernalia (the evil eye on key chains, ash trays).

We sat down to eat.  What are the chances that someone you had eaten breakfast with would be at the table with  you – but there they were, Frank and Joan on the side of me, and on the side of Greg, a couple that he calls his chicks.  They were fabulous – older women on their first crew and full of lots of interesting chatter. The dinner companions are always interesting because they have had as many adventures in the market as we have had.