Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moorish Castle at Sintra

Catherine sends the following message:

Views like you wouldn't believe.

Could see the Atlantic ocean.

Lots of climbing.

Even Hebe hung in there.

Thomas exclaimed, "This is the best day of my life ever".

... best day ever, according to Thomas ...

... climbing a tower at a Moorish castle ...
A tornado came through the moorish castle six months ago.

Tore down 20% of all the trees in the forest.

Saw tons of uprooted trees.
... more of the castle

Calgary on a Sunday

 ... Arta taking pictures in Lisbon ...
No wonder I can't remember where I was.
  I could have been anywhere!
Kathy Jarvis and I have emailed each other.

We want to be on the trip with Catherine and Eric's kids, but neither of us were able to organize for it.

So we watch our email and virtually walk every step of the way with them, which is a great privilege even at that.

 I toss the pictures and text onto the family blog for Catherine.

But I forget to tell what is happening here at home. And I even forget exactly what Lisbon was like so I had to slip back to some of my old pictures to remind me of what I did in Lisbon on my own.

Picasso's Guernica
I do remember what I did yesterday, though, which was much different than going to a Spanish villa for church. Church came to me in the form of our home teacher who sat and visited part of the afternoon away.

Among other things we talked about was Picasso’s Guernica, about Elie Wiesel’s The Night. We spoke about our love of the arts (in his case, love of architecture and we talked a bit about his own gift with watercolours). A lovely afternoon.

I told him my boarders are leaving. For 3 ½ to 5 years they have lived in a house with two Mormons: Kelvin, a conservative Mormon, whom we identified yesterday as willing to give everything he has, right to the shirt on his back, to others. They full agree with that thumb-nail shot of him. And while their interactions with me have mostly been in the kitchen, me cooking and in idle conversation with them, they would agree that they have also lived with a Mormon feminist.

Yesterday one of them said to me – I never thought I would say this, but after living here, then watching the Mormons in action during the Calgary flood, and then again in another rescue operation, I have to say I am willing to join the church. I don’t believe there is a God. Is that a pre-requisite? I told him, no, not for me, but yes for them.

After Brook left yesterday, I went back to the boarders to tell them this story, since it is hard for Albertans not to be trading flood stories. Generous people have helped in the last two weeks in so many Alberta locations. But few have been out to Exshaw, a tiny town half way to Banff. Iit as the cement plant area that one passes on the way to Banff but it is on the 1A Highway. There was some hierarchical organization went on, and a designated group of Mormons didn’t go to church on Sunday. They were called and asked to get on their work clothes and go out to Exshaw to lend a helping. I say they went to real church. The area is closed off to the public, probably because of some dangers and one has to have a permit to enter the area. The permits were issued to them and away they went.

In an email to me yesterday, Ann Cowie was telling me that her daughter had been organized through another church and had also spent the day helping.

As every, hugs to all,


Lisbon on a Sunday

We attended church today in Lisbon.

Quite an interesting building.
It is an old villa converted into a church building.

The villa includes mosaic walkways, a garden (see photo), and a soccer turf in the rear (used as a parking lot on Sunday).
Primary is held on the upper floors with huge balconies covered in tiles (see flower and castle tiles attached).

Every kid I know wants to go to primary in rooms covered with castles and animal tiles.
 ... multiple use soccer field ...
The basement stairs also beautiful with tile mosaics.

The kitchen was to die for with huge marble counter-tops and a cooking area fit for a king.
In the chapel, I took the sacrament while enjoying a stain-glass window of muHenrique (photo with the piano).

Also to be noted was the beautiful mosaic of Poseidon on the outer wall of the villa, unfortunately slightly covered by a parked car.
Who said the church was the same everywhere?

They obviously didn't get to go to church in Lisbon.

The ward members love the building, as did I.
Walked home from church (20 minutes) in the heat of the day.

A scorcher today at 34 degrees.

Have spent the rest of the days indoors, avoiding sunburn.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Neighbours

... a family of three ...
As you know, Richard, Miranda and Michael live next door.

I can take a trip over there three or four times a day and only find them home once.

I could call first before I go over, but it is quicker to just slip out the door and go up their back steps.

Last night they came wandering in through my back gate making their way over to their porch, but stopping at my house to talk for a while.

"How do you work this thing?"
The pre-football season game was on at McMahon Stadium.

I was enjoying the lovely evening as were they.

I twisted a nozzle onto my water hose and Michael tried to find out how it worked.

Miranda and Richard stood back, letting him experiment, since he didn’t have any idea of how hard to hold the lever or in which direction to point the face of it.

He was getting wet.

They let him investigate until at one point I saw the water was coming out of the hose in a steady stream.

“Did he figure out how to do that?”

"Now that was fun!"
“No,” said Miranda.  “I switched the lever.  He had worked hard enough and I thought he should have a reward now.”

So cute.


Jardin des Plants

From Catherine:

Family tree photo.

Even the princess Hebe bought at La Chapelle made it into the photo.

Last day in Paris.

Arrived in Lisbon tonight.

Getting resettled in a new space. Tired but love travelling.


Gare du Nord

From Catherine:

We are waiting for the RER (Paris region public transport) to Charles de Gaulle.

We are also wishing we brought less luggage but realize we did pack pretty light for a group of six.


The Audience - Questions and Answers

In the grand tradition of the Carter-Johnson house I offer questions to those of you who saw the encore performance of The Audience today.  At Rebecca's house you get $.50 per right answer, up to a maximum of $10.00.  In the form the quiz is taking today, all you will get is the rush of getting most of the questions right.

Here goes, for those of you who are home from the movie and in the testing mode.  Beware.  I am starting with a hard question.  Skip it if you like and go to some easier questions while you warm up.

1.      Writer Peter Morgan said at the half-time interview, there is a difference between writing the facts and writing the truth.  What does he mean by this?
2.      Whom do you think is the Queen’s favourite Prime Minister
3.      A young girl appears in the play.  Who is she? What is her name for an extra bonus point?
4.      What is the Girl Gide symbol for “on my honor”.
5.      How many Prime Ministers has the queen met with over the course of her reign.
6.      What secret would the back stage people not tell us about the costuming.  For bonus points, what was the colour of the first dress and what was the colour of the second dress after the magical costume change.
7.      When we saw the book called the Costuming Bible what colour did we see most ... what is the royal color for her costuming.  Alternately, name three colours that we saw in that book.
8.      If the Queen took her husband’s name, what country would we think she is from?
9.      From what sore was the heater at Balmoral purchased in 1969.
10.   What does it mean to be a postage stamp with a pulse?
11.   Name one place that made you laugh in the movie.
12.   What part of the movie made your mother cry and why.  This question to be answered by Alex and Duncan.  If you did not go to the movie with your mother, did a tear ever slip down your own cheek and if so ... why?
13.   Who is Emma Freud?
14.   This play was not held at the National Theatre in London but moved to the West End.  You may have been in this theatre yourself.  If so, did you notice the decoration on the fire curtain?  Name one of the images there.  For extra points, name the theatre.
15.   Helen Murrin was interviewed and said she was wearing the same colour in her dress that the Queen wore in a sweater at Balmoral Castle.  What colour was that?
16.   What two things are done at Balmoral Castle whether there is rain or shine there?
17.   Why does the Queen weqr narrow brimmed hats?  How many dressers does the Queen have in real life?  Why are her dresses weighted?
18.   Describe two ceiling lights: the one in Balmoral Castle and the one at Buckingham Palace.
19.   Why didn’t Sir Winston Churchill sit down in the first interview?
20.   Sir Winston Churchill wanted a favour of the queen – he wanted her coronation to be put off for 16 months, even though her father’s coronation had been arranged in 5 months.  What favour did the Queen ask for in return?
21.   #10 Downing Street is the home of the Prime Minister.  The Queen and the Duke of Edinburough have only been there twice to dinner.  Whose invitations did they accept?
22.   We heard one Prime Minister refer to his wife many times, the first time because the P.M said his wife wanted a picture of him with the Queen.  What is the wife’s name?  (Hint:  Alex has an aunt with this name.)
23.   A phone call warned the Queen that the meeting she was about to have with the current Prime Minister might have a temperature warmer than usual.  Which Prime Minister was mad, and why?
24.   What is the number of minutes that the queen thinks is the maximum for any of her subjects to listen to her speak.
25.   Which was your favorite scene from the movie?  You can answer this question in the comment section if you like.  While I am here typing, I asked Kelvin what was his favorite scene and he said the one where the subject was Alzheimer’s.

Did you have fun with the questions?


Friday, June 28, 2013

Larch Haven Minecraft

 ... Minecraft Lego at dinnertime ...
David is wondering which of his cousins want to play Minecraft with him this summer.

He is also looking for information on how to build an arrow (in Minecraft, that is).

More about Minecraft later ... you will probably be hearing about it all summer.

... sharing crudites with a creeper ...
for the uninitiated a creeper is one of the scariest creatures that comes out
 ...David studying Minecraft lego...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

St. Chapelle and Notre Dame

Roman baths in the crypts under Notre Dame
From Catherine Jarvis:

Great museum under Notre Dame.

Ruins of the old city.

 Interactive computer program like an iPad which lets you move around and inside notre dame at its various periods of construction. Kids loved that.

Here is the old Roman baths buried under Notre Dame.

Kids took a picture of the interactive map as they were enjoying it so much.

You can use you finger to zoom in , zoom out and rotate the image.
Esther's window at St. Chapelle.

Beautiful windows.

Learned about making stained glass
Hebe inside St. Chapelle.

She bought a princess then found a castle to play with.

Check out the stonework if you didn't see the castle alread.


Senlis, Chantilly and Versailles

From the Jarvis Family on Holidays:

On Monday we went to Senlis a medieval city near Paris.

It dates to Gallo-Roman times with some inner walls made in the 3rd century.

Pretty cool.

Did one of the 3 city walks that takes you through the narrow streets.

WE also went to Chantilly.

This is the chateau that was used by the first Kings of France.

In fact, they say Versailles was modelled after this chateau.

Chantilly is surrounded by canals and waterways.

Try googling a picture.

There is also a "Hameau" there which Marie Antoinette used as the model for her play village at Versailles (hameau at PEtit Trianon).

Yesterday we went to Versailles.

Attached is a photo of the gang in the hall of mirrors, photos in the garden and outside the main gate.

Spent 1 and 1/2 hours in line then marched through the palace shoulder to shoulder with the crowds.

It was insane!

Attached is also a photo of waiting in line.

Grateful for the wide open space of the gardens where you had some space away from the crowds.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Exhibition: Munch - 150

My game plan for Thursday is to see the second in the three films this year about famous Exhibitions.  In Calgary it is showing at two theatres, Scotia Bank Theatre Chinook and Crowfoot Cineplex.

The advertisement says, "This year, all of Norway celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch (1863 - 1944), one of the towering figures of modern art. This exhibition is already being hailed a "once-in-a-lifetime show". Global interest is huge - not least as a result of one of his four paintings of The Scream having recently set a public art auction record of $120 million. Many know Munch as the man who painted The Scream, but his complete works are remarkable and secure his place as one of the greatest artists to have ever lived."

If you have a lot of time on your hands,  here is the 47 minute utube on The Scream  called Munch-Private Life of a Masterpiece.


The Bread Makers

... 1 knife, 3 loaves, 6 people ... a few crumbs left ...

Mati is going back to Nepal this month.

“I can’t believe two years has gone so fast.”

“Three and a half years,” he replied.

The graduate students are dedicated – they work almost 18 hours a day seven days a week. The rare times I see them is when I am cooking in the kitchen. Occasionally they come out of their rooms to tell me stories about when they were young – one my favorite Mati-tales being the one about the first time he tasted bread.

He is from a small village in Nepal – though we make a joke of it, the truth is, to get to his village I would have to walk 10 hours after getting off the 8 hour bus ride from Katmandu. That is why he tells me I cannot come to visit. His family pretty well eat what they can grow – corn, chilies and a few other basics. When he was young, his grandfather had 2 extra sweet potatoes and went to the road that leads to Mr. Everest, hoping to sell them to someone travelling there, for much needed cash. A traveller offered him an exchange – a loaf of bread for the 2 sweet potatoes. Although the grandfather needed cash, he knew that none of his grandchildren had ever tasted bread, and though he needed money, back the bread came to the village, a small slice for each child. Mati was seven. He tells of cupping the bread in his hand and holding it under his nose for a long time – savoring the aroma before he had his first taste.

Since the time of hearing that story, I have hoped that on some of the days when I make bread, I can produce loaves that will match that first smell. I don’t think I ever did it. Related to this story, I have to say that there is a little bit of grieving when someone who has lived with me for a long time must leave. I tell the men that my own children didn’t stay in this house as adults – so having the men leave is a different kind of separation for me.

I decided to work out my sense of loss with bread. I have been baking, filling the house with the smell of muffins or bread or buns trying to treasure our last days together. I am still having a difficulty trying to re-create a sensation that will match Mati’s first encounter with bread. I tried a fig, caraway seed, toasted fennel loaf last night. I might have come close.



Everything is unnaturally green.

The spring was wet and now we have had the moisture that precipitated the flood.

 I noticed the prairie grasses of Nose Hill are lush with growth.

Wyona said on the way to Edmonton, greenness was the topic of conversation between Greg and her.

They couldn’t get over the look of the fields – everything rich with colour.

I don’t know if it is because my peony bush is fully mature, or if it is the rain water, but I have cut enough peony blossoms to fill my house upstairs and downstairs.

 As well, Miranda has as many bouquets as she wants and there are still blooms on the bush – sixty flowers left outside.

I didn't bother to count the blossoms on the second bush.

As well, I have been trying to keep the chives under control. 

The plants are winning when they start to grow out of the cracks in the sidewalks.


100,000 Tree Club

"This year I get a new t-shirt."
I have a closet full of old t-shirt. Whenever someone is through with theirs I say, “Hey, I will take it. I can garden in it.”

 If I have another lifetime, I will never be able to wear out the t-shirt I have received this way with the hope of gardening in them.

Still, I saw another t-shirt that I want. I asked
Connor if I could have  it when it is worn out. This one says, I have planted 100,000 trees.

"Connor. I want that t-shirt. Or buy me one like it at work.”

Logo: Foreant Arbores: May the trees flourish
“That is what Glen said. If he could wear a t-shirt like this, it will give him a lot of credibility when he is out in the bush trying to solve forestry complaints.This t-shirt is really old. This year I will get one that says ‘I have planted 400,000 tree’”.

I hope to get that one as well for my old t-shirt collection.


Sunday, June 23, 2013


I could hardly move the stroller thru the crowds. 

There was chaos on the front side of the cathedral because of the crowds.

Surprisingly peaceful on the back side.

I was glad our host recommended we go to the back side.


Playing in Paris

I found this park where Hebe and the older kids played.

... even Eric can't help himself playing ...

... backside of Montmartre ...

Photo above is from the back side of Sacre Coeur.

Much more peaceful away from the crowds.
Riding the Metro

Hebe's reaction to accordion player on the metro