Saturday, March 30, 2013

Starting up the Carter-Johnson blogspot... life on an island

Well.... i decided to pick up the Carter-Johnson blog again, but, since we are no longer on sabbatical, i decided it needs a new year.  Alors, here is the new blog, and the first post!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Bolshoi's Esmeralda

Maria Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov
in the Bolshoi's “Esmeralda”
There is a showing of Esmeralda on Sunday at the Crowfoot Cineplex.

I have my two dates:  Meighan and Ceilidh.

Here is a review from the New York Times for anyone else who is planning on attending.


Hot Dog / Cold Dog

 ... the wider his mouth opens, the more closed his eyes get ...
I cut out a set of recipes for gourmet hot dogs.

Take the basic bun / frankfurter / bun and add mustard, relish and ketchup, or chili con corne, or sauerkraut, or a home made BBQ sauce.

But you won't get any takers on the gourmet hot dog from David or Hebe.  He likes bun, meat, bun.
Why do I have to wash my hands afteward?

She wants to eat hers sans bun.

Why not?


The Perfect S'More

...the good embers are on the left side ...
This was my year to learn to make a fire which I did in different time increments, the first fire taking an hour, just to get started.

But when the fire goes well, and the logs die down, then it is time to master cooking the perfect marshmallows.

... very close to perfect stick handling ...
There are a lot of variables to getting that fire gong -- one being how much help you have from small people throwing their own sticks on the fire.

Another variable has to do with timing. Just because a fire begins, the grass has burst into flame and, the small pieces of wood have ignited, that doesn't mean that there will be a fire, 10 minutes later.
... the double decker s'more feat ...

Tom performed a cooking variation I have never seen before: double decker s'more.

I don't know how some of the marshmallow got on his chin, between the time when he placed them on the chocolate and when he raised his concoction for a photoshoot -- but there is some evidence in the picture that happened.
 ... how to wash the marmallow from my cheek ... try bottoms-up ....

And it is not much easier for Hebe to get that sticky feeling  out of the corner of her mouth, no matter how much she drinks.

Ah, waiting for the return to the happy days of a marshmallow roast by a good fire.


The Song of Lunch

"Out to lunch at your own lunch," Emma observes.
I am not a poetry lover.  In my life, I have only picked up one book of poetry to read of my own free will. Yes, I have read others on assignment – but if I have a choice, I choose prose.

Getting that off of my chest, I still want to say sing the praises of a  prose poem called The Song of Lunch presented on Masterpiece Theatre - Contemporary, -- an exquisite hour with Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson.

At our house the captioning was on and it couldn’t have been more than a few sentences into the production when I could see that I was enthralled with the text as well as with the acting.   Here is a review:  LA Times Review

And a second review on

Bonnie  Wyora told me that some channels are playing The Song of Lunch again this weekend.

Well worth the effort to find it and enjoy.


Summer Secwepemc Legends to Tell

 ...thoughts of Shuswap summer while snow is still on the ground ...
I have the summer on my mind.

I was surfing the internet and looking at Inuit Legends because of some audio links Rebecca sent me from the Ideas Series on CBC.

I love the Ideas series on CBC.  Wish I had more time to listen to it.

Rebecca also sent me an audio recording on the Shuswap.  How fun.

I went to look for something in paper, because when I am beside a fire at night, I want memorable stories to tell -- myths about the land are good.  And I need a bit of paper beside me to cue me to the stories.

I ran into this site: Stseptekwle – Stories of the Secwepemc

I can hardly wait for the snows to melt, and for the spring to come, and for my grandchildren to gather around the fire.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beware 1/2 Price Easter Snacks

Beware the half-price Easter chocolate that will be upon us soon.  For example, Mary did pretty well last year, not binging on Easter chocolate or buying up all the chocolate on sale after Easter. But it is hard not to buy half price chocolate because to buy it is to eat it.  

Last week she bought 5 of the large sized Cadbury’s chocolate bars because they were on sale for $1 from $3.50.   

A grand saving.  But dangerous if a person is not up to sharing.

There is a down side to having no chocolate in the house.  For example, here are some things I have eaten just because I had to have something tasty:
1. pretzels -- which I hate unless they are chocolate dipped
2. dry Pita Crisps from Costco.  
3. an overripe banana
4. a bowl of a grandchild’s Nesquick cereal – little puffed balls of chocolate that turn white milk into chocolate milk.
5. fruit snacks shaped like Spiderman.
I have changed my mind.  Better to keep an eye out for ½ price Easter candy next week.


Lawn Watering


Glen has been telling me these facts for years -- especially about how to drive the roots of the grass deeper into the ground.  Now Steve sent me this clip from Scotts Canada about lawn watering.  I think I am going to go out and find a rain gauge. My internet research tells me they can be purchased anywhere from $7 to $250.  I am going to begin with the economy model.


Lawns need at least 2.5 cm of water per week. Use a rain gauge to measure the rainfall during the week and make up the difference with a lawn sprinkler.

Water only once or twice a week, but water deeply to reach the roots. Frequent watering only wets the lawn’s surface and forces the roots to remain shallow. Deeper root systems help lawns survive stressful periods of heat and drought. Early in the morning is the ideal time to water for most lawns. There’s less wind, less hot sun, and your lawn has a full day to dry. Watering at night invites mildew and fungus.

The Perfect Dinner

Burn index: 57

This is Wednesday evening's meal and is the perfect dinner at the burn pile.

Happiness Index: 100
After looking at the picture of my meal, Mary said she only likes a hotdog if it is fire-roasted and has mustard on it.  But then, it is the most delicious dinner ever.


Autumn Wood

Autumn Wood did a poem in the Lethbridge festival.   She had on a coat and her rubber boots. She began standing up Then she sat down, her legs were straight in front of her and she would wiggle herself around in the mud as she was saying her poem.  She will get a big trophy, her second.  She also got one when she was four.   Here is the poem:

The Muddy Puddle

I am sitting
In the middle
Of a rather Muddy
With my bottom
Full of bubbles
And my rubbers
Full of Mud,

While my jacket
And my sweater
Go on slowly
Getting wetter
As I very
Slowly settle
To the Bottom
Of the Mud.

And I find that
What a person
With a puddle
Round his middle
Thinks of mostly
In the muddle
Is the Muddi-
Ness of Mud.

Dennis Lee
(a Canadian poet whose birthday is coming up on Aug. 31st) 

Author: Dennis Lee
Owen was in the same festival category and did a poem called "Dinosaur Dinner" by Dennis Lee.  Check out his poetry.  At the end of the poem there is talk about some of the dinosaurs who are going to dinner.   Tyrannosaurus Rex, the waiter, gobbles them up because they didn’t pay their checks.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adventures in Rugby

At the hospital waiting for the x-rays

In what was a highly unusual moment, both Steve and I had a window of opportunity, and drove up to Claremont School to watch the Mount Doug Junior Rubgy team play its first game. 

I think that, for many of the players, this is their first year of experience with the game.  So, it was interesting to watch them translate skills from football and soccer into a different sport.

I wasn't sure which was MORE entertaining:  the game itself, or Steve running up and down the sidelines yelling out cheers and constructive feedback from the sidelines.   

Unfortunately, Alex took to heart one of Steve's invitations to "tackle him!", and did what was a most impressive flying tackle.  The unfortunate part is that the other guy just evaded Alex's outstretched fingers, leaving my boy to a mighty contact with the ground.

I could see Alex didn't look well, but he stayed on the field long enough to help do one of those wierd rugby lifts, before signalling that he wanted a substitution.  He walked nearly the other side of the field before collapsing to the ground.  He reported that, when he hit the ground, he heard a 'cracking noise'.  oh dear.

shirt off, brace attached!

In any event, the trainer tied up a sling, and sent us off to seek medical advice.  Back to the car, to negotiate rush hour traffic, and find the closest hospital.  All I will say about the ride is that Alex is now quite aware that aceleration and deceleration are painful concepts, and that speed bumps are NOT fun when you are a passenger with an injury.

We were all hoping that there was just a dislocation, but.... nope.  A break it was.  And, technology being the wonderful thing it is, we got to gather around the computer screen to admire Alex's skelton, and the lovely clean break in the middle of his clavicle. 

borrowing his dad's coat for the walk back out

Lucky for him, the break was clean and in alignment, so there was no need to surgery to pin things into place.  Instead, a simple shoulder brace to help him hold things in place while the bone knits back together.  A shoulder brace, and a bunch of drugs to help him negotiate the first few days of pain.  Steve and Alex were both worried that the drs would have to cut off his brand new rugby shirt, but instead we got a hands-on-lesson on HOW to get clothes on and off him with out killing him in the process.  So... shirt off, and brace on.

In a month, it should be healed up enough that he can start to function (relatively) normally again!


Trust Issues

The glass on my oven door is broken. I need to replace the door but on calling around, no repair man could supply the door for the model of that oven.  The last serviceman was helpful, pointing me in the direction of a man who sells old oven parts – kind of a woman’s dream of Pick-U-Parts.  Instead I bought a new stove and paid for it on my Sears Master Card.

The next day I thought better of the payment plan, seeing that it would come due when I was not here. I slipped into the Sears Appliance Store yesterday to pay off my card. But the clerk couldn’t do that without my card which is a minor one to me and I had left it at home. Apparently the Sear’s Mastercard Account is not attached to my name in the computer but is owned by someone else and the clerk couldn’t access it for payment. Fine, I said. You keep the cheque and I will go home and phone you later this evening with the information you need. The clerk was reticent, issues of trust he said.

I looked around. The store was empty except for another salesman and a woman sitting at a computer, looking as though she weren’t listening in. I said fine, just tell me which of the three of you is the most trustworthy and I will give that person the cheque. No, no, he said, it is not exactly that.

“I don’t want to come back and I am trying to think of a way not to return,” I said.

The woman piped up, quietly. “Do you have electronic banking?”

“Actually, I do and my Sears card is attached to it. I can pay that way. Thank you. And ... you have answered another question that might arise and that would be, who is the smartest among the four us?”

The men blustered.

She laughed.

I left.


Puppet Camp 2012

David went to a summer camp in Enderby last year called, "puppet camp". The theme was local birds. Each child created a puppet, created a flag representing the bird's habitat, and created a replica of the type of nest that bird would use. At puppet camp, the children chose the bird they wanted to make, and that was their nickname for the rest of the week. David chose "Meadowlark".  You can see the nest on the chair near him. We still have the flag and the puppet, but the homemade nest from sticks and mud had a very ripe smell by the time we got it home in our hot trunk on that summer day, so it has been returned to the wild.
Meadow Lark on stage and waiting for audience to seated.

At the end of the week, parent's were invited to come see the play the children had written and were going to perform with their puppets. In the next picture you can see the puppet Meadow Lark in the upper right corner. Here David is speaking his line in the play ... which may have been the morning whistle of the Meadow Lark.
Here Meadow Lark checks to see if his parents are watching. Dawn Cranswick, also known as "Red Winged Blackbird" is by his side. She attended the camp with him, providing support where needed. A few weeks ago David sent her a text asking her to help him make some modifications to a book they had co-written about Cats a few years ago. She responded by inviting him over for a two hour pizza lunch so they had time to work on second edition revisions and play some board games. She is the person who ran Science Club and Sports Club for David and his friends when he was in Kindergarten.

And here is it at the end of the play, gathered with the other birds, waiting to take his bow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

French Lesson somewhat lost in translation

David's tutor Suzie Basque helped him plan a story today. She guided him with questions. They each wrote down the answers into a word/phrase web.

If you look closely, you can see a black cat in the upper right corner of the white board. That cat is Meow Meow (or Miao Miao when he introduces himself in French). Beside him is a cat person who will be part of a battle. I think later a man was added doing the limbo under a sword during battle.

In the word/phrase web in the photo you may be able to find the following words:

100 ou plus des chats - less meilleur strategie - les meilleur armes.
tout les jour - se battent contre less 1000 humains - pas gentil

When we figure it out, we will try to upload the audio version of the final story. Unfortunately, the automated transcription by the ipad tried to turn all the French words into English so the written version is full of unexpected phrases.


Winter Games - Catalonian Style

And what are we going to do with this 'pooping log'?
Miranda downloaded her pictures for me at Christmas when I asked what she had seen on a Christmas Family Walk she and Richard had taken in December.

While looking at those pictures, I came across a Catalan Christmas Tradition that we celebrated.
Hide it under a blanket?  How quaint?

I saw this done at the lake one summer – all of the cousins gathered around to hear how the Pooping Log works at Christmas time.

CagatiĆ³. CagatiĆ³. To hear the chant once is enough to know how and when to join in.
This is our fourth round of gifts and the log is still delivering!

When I celebrated Christmas 2012 in Catalonia, I saw this event played out in the hacienda of a lovely wine vineyard. There was a traditional buffet of foods I was not familiar with. Many families had gathered together to share the tradition that belongs to the pooping log.
Joaquim hiding more presents.

Duncan with the stick, ready to pound the log again.
Joaquim planned the 2013 event for us – buying the gifts and setting up the time and space.

The weather was colder.

The group was smaller.

But the fun was enjoyable – gifts, gifts and more gifts delivered by the log when the kids would run out of the room.

Here's to more family traditions.


I Saw Part of _People_

NT Live in HD's People-- Dorothy and Iris sing and dance
"I see myself more as Dorothy on the left, than as Iris on the right."
Last year Rebecca told me of a conversation she had with a friend who now lives in London.

 She said that what they had in common with respect to the arts is that both of them had seen all of the National Theatre productions that year.

Rebecca’s friend had seen the plays live in London. Rebecca had seen them in Victoria, B.C. thanks to The London National Theatre in HD.

On that point, it feels like a miracle to me, that I can see these plays in my own city – 20 minutes to the cinema and I can settle in for a three hour production I wouldn’t see any other way. And now a digression. I don’t know if it was because Bonnie had been talking to me about a curious incident between David and a little girl who had held a dog, but I was more sensitive than usual to the smells of the theatre. In David’s case, when the little girl and David arrived in the same room, he began sniffing the air around her, able to still smell that she had been giving a wet poodle more than its share of cuddles. He lives with a heightened awareness of smells.

On Thursday, in the theatre the sense of smell took over for me. First it was the buttered popcorn. Then I knew someone was eating a chocolate bar. It wasn’t long before I could identify the overpowering scent of a musky perfume coming from the woman sitting in front of me. Next I wondered if I could also catch the smell of relish and mustard as the scent of a hot-dog wafted by me.

When the movie, People, began I tried to put all of those smells behind me and concentrate on the opening scene. But now I could hear noises coming from the theatre next door, and even bells and whistles ringing from the slot and game machines that are in the front foyer. “Am I just getting old and crotchety. Everything is bothering me tonight.” A lady further down the isle hopped out of her seat and marched to the theatre door before I did, closing it to those sounds and the ambient light that was also bothering me ... and I could feel myself being immersed in the plot.

The play centres around the sale of an old English home, now that the woman who has inherited it, no longer has the wealth to sustain it. Will she sell it to the National Trust? Will she just sell the treasures inside the house to pay for further expenses? Will she rent the home out for movie set? That is the skeleton that the dialogue hangs on. But the acting of the two sisters and Iris, the companion was so exquisite. Perhaps getting older makes watching older people more interesting. I was watching the slump of the shoulders on the women, listening to the dry witticisms, charmed by their acknowledgment of their fading desires to keep up with electronic tools. The attic of the house was full of 1980’s newspapers that Dorothy was trying to make her way through. When she told someone that she was just now reading up on the Falklands War, and they replied that the war was over and England won it, she was so mad to have heard the spoiler.

I was happy until the second act when the video transmission began to fade. I know what it is like when the pixilation goes awry and the sound stops on my TV at home, and I have seen it in the Live HD transmissions, at least the early ones. But not recently. These interruptions must have gone on 20 times, severely breaking up the flow of the plot and making me loose the punchline of many of the jokes. People more disgusted than I began to leave the theatre. The manager came in 20 minutes later and yelled over the sound track, “So sorry, there is nothing we can do about this. We will be giving you refund vouchers as you leave the theatre.”

I was so crabby driving home. Kelvin kept trying to be positive about it. The more Pollyanna phrases he uttered, the sharper my critique became. When I got home I was so mad that I popped some popcorn (enough for a family of eight), put lots of butter on it and had my own movie extravaganzas in front of my TV until the wee hours of the morning.

That fixed me.


I swear I can smell fresh bread when I see this photo

"Thank goodness for the Bosch."

August 5, 2012

If you weren't at the Lake, I bet you wish you had been.


The Bone series by Jeff Smith

To learn more about David's favorite author, visit the website Boneville. David read the seventh graphic novel in the Bone series in French. We have found books 2, 5, and 9 in English at the library. We have the rest on order in any language available.

What David likes best about the Bone series is that they are funny. His favorite character is Fone Bone ... or maybe Bartleby, the rat creature cub. The Bone cousins are referred to by the full grown rat creatures as "succulent little Bone mammals." David has drawn you a picture of Fone Bone below.

What David likes about Fone Bone is that he is pretty amazing. He is the most courageous of the Bone cousins. He is also the cleverest too. What David likes about Bartleby is that he is fun. He can act as a good attack, a support for escaping, and he is really fast.

Here is Bartleby on the run. If you look closely, you will see he has red eyes.

The most challenging thing about the Bone series, says David, is that the books are really hard to find. If you go in the Okanagan Public Library catalogue, you can pretty much only find four available.

David says, "Please tell me what your favorite books are, cousins, so I can try reading them."