Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ten 2013 Moments to be Remembered

... waiting for the maple syrup candy to cool ...
1. I cherished seeing Mary’s children and Catherine’s children early in the year. I wouldn’t have missed the trip to both home in Quebec. I got to see butterflies in the winter and I had a chance to eat maple syrup candy cooled in the snow. How about the fun at the skating rink at Mount Royal! That should be a moment to remember all on its own.

2. This is the year everything quit: my old car, my stove, my washing machine, my dryer ... and I gave up on my dream to continue walking outside in the winter. With regret, I acknowledged I am too old to be slipping on the ice and I bought a treadmill. That last purchase ended my discretionary funds for 2013 and beyond.

... Wyona, watching the sail out ...
3. I never had the dream of going from Hong Kong to Shanghai; from Shanghai to Seward, Alaska; and from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver.

Wyona and Greg created the opportunity.

... pedestrian walk in Kobe, Japan ...
I still shake my head in wonder that I would see so many places on the Pacific Rim.

4. 2013 was my year of film and music. I watched film series and Great Performance Concerts on T.V. I took advantage of the HD Live presentations, attended the Roots and Blue Festival, and I hooked in to the Shuswap Film Festival.

Regretfully, I had no time to take courses at the university. That was the downside of enjoying all that other entertainment.

... blue eyed Alice Margaret at 5 months ...
5. New baby Alice was a 2013 highlight.

When a child begins her life in the same city as her grandmother and then lives next door? I count that as an event to be treasured.

6. I enjoyed the fall and some winter in B.C. I thought I would spend time in Janet’s and Moiya’s hot tubs, but by the time night came, I was always too tired to walk down to either house. I love having more to do every day than I can manage in B.C. Still, I would have liked at least one hot tub event. But to be fair, I have tried hot tubing it in the morning. And that is so relaxing that I can’t get any other kind of work done all day.

7. I gathered some of Moiya’s tomatoes in the late summer when she had to leave the lake. The ones I took home were so delicious that just to talk about them makes me stop typing, rest my hands on the keyboard, close my eyes and see if I can bring that intense flavour of vine ripened tomatoes back to mind. Yes. I can do it. Delicious.

8. I have done more singing this year than in past years. David Camps and Michael Johnson have been my targets. They don’t know how much thinking and preparing I have to do before I break out into what seems like spontaneous song. If they knew, they might resist my melodies less. Those old lyrics aren’t in my head anymore and I have to do some serious memorizing to get the words back and make them seem like they have been mine forever.

 ... Mati, in Victoria, photographing a sculpture in the back of a truck ...
9. Makmiller and Matiram said good-bye to us this year.

 I have not been grieving their leaving.

I have focused, instead, on the treasure of having known them.

10. Good health for the year! – more the treasure when it seems threatened. I remember again the joy of waking every morning to a new day of promise. Every day, 365 of them,  still a wonder.


Two turtledoves or two young pigeons

Artist: Brooke Melchin
Our home teacher, Brooke Melchin, is the artist on the cover of a Christmas card he gave to us.

The card celebrates the following passage from St. Luke: “when the days of her purification ... were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord; to offer a sacrifice ... a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons".

The charm in the card for me is the celebration of a Biblical passage I rarely hear read or set to music.

I don’t know the medium Brooke used. I am guessing India ink and good quality parchment paper. The picture has concentric circles enveloping different images: a halo around Mary and the child, then one around the Holy Family, one around the other pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, the last halo encircling the gate to Jerusalem.

I love the way I feel when I look at the walls of the city. I am looking from above and instinctively I lift my chin a little to see over the walls and down to the roof tops of the houses.

I don’t have much space left on my walls to hang another picture.  Still I designated a "frame shopping" event for myself, touching down at Pier I Imports, then Bed, Bath and Beyond, then at London Drugs, wanting just the right frame. Those tiny figures in the bottom left-hand side of the picture need to pop out.

I found the right one: clean, simple, white.

Kelvin will hang the picture as his good-bye to 2013 and as a hello to 2014.

 How is that for a good New Year’s Eve?

Happy New Year to all.


Christmas Gifts

We have a soft agreement in our family.

For birthdays and Christmas we send emails, make phone calls, give personal greetings to those we love or we do whatever we want.

 It wasn’t always this way. When the kids were young there were presents – lots of them. Maybe a roll of life savers or a bracelet bangle. Now that I look back on it, I probably spent more money on wrapping paper than the kids spent on gifts. That how things were then.  Times change for families. My kids are gone – some thousands of miles away; one family just a sprint away, still ... all are gone. And so I wasn’t expecting any gifts this year, more than the always welcomed email or phone call or even blog post.

... a gift to me from Lurene ...
Still as far as gifts go, Kelvin and I scored on two fronts. Lurene slipped into the Santa bag a tea towel for me. I wondered if I should cherish it or use it. I am going to do both by doing the latter.

Kelvin received a wonderful gift in the “present exchange” held at the family party at Marcia’s house. I had bad timing. That was just the moment when I knew it was time for a nap. I only woke up to hear the happiness in the voices of those who came out of the game with presents that became more meaningful, the more they were desired by others. But this post is not about that.

I want to focus on Audra Treleaven. “I am five,” she says, beaming, as though she has entered adulthood. There is a look in her eye and a tilt of her head that lets you know she has gone through a rite of passage. I think it may have been when she started kindergarten in the fall, because by then she was telling her mother, “No, you let me out of the car a block away from school. I will walk in.”

On the night of the party Bonnie Wyora was watching how Audra can print her name – in block letters.

... a fantastic gift in the present game ...
“Wherever did she learn that?”, Bonnie asked Marcia.

“From her brothers. She is curious, dying to know everything about printing and she copies everything.”

And that is how we knew where the gift came from the Kelvin received.

It is a reading light that hangs around your neck.

Others who have this light like it ... say that it really works.

... the best part of the mylight gift ...Audra's printing practice at the bottom of it
What I like about the light is that Audra added a special touch to the package.

Printing practise at the bottom of the gift.

What kind of treasure is that.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Moment of Nostalgia

Gabe signs autographs for theatre patrons and ...
Arta begins to think about the highlights of 2013
I had a moment of nostalgia this morning when looking at the left-hand side of the blog (The Blog Archive) and remembering at the same time that the year is coming to a close. Doral Johnson set the blog up in 2009 and then slipped out saying, "This belongs to all of us. I just set it up."

Now four years have come and gone: Nov and December of 2009, then 2010 to 2013, well four years -- almost ... a few days to go. On the average, it looks like we talk to each other about 450 times a year. I scrolled through the short two months of 2009 postings to see pictures of people who are now 4 years older. That is what brought the moment of nostalgia. Even I look four years younger in the photos.

I lingered longer at one of the posts, for there was my list of "The Ten Best 2009 Moments to be Remembered".

I really laughed when I saw 2009 was the year Rebecca offered to co-write a paper with me if I would come to a workshop with her. She said she would do the work. I would just have to talk to her for a while. In the months that followed, she turned that around into writing a paper each.  The papers are appearing in a collection about polygamy published in 2014. Who would have known in 2009?

Now I am off to take a walk.  It is -17. I will begin formulating my new post: Arta’s 10 always-to be-remembered-moments of 2013. I must remember to keep my eye on the icy sidewalks while the last 12 months roll by in my head.


Gingerbread Houses

Catie's Work of Art

Rhiannon's Finished Project
Xavier's Sweet Enterprise
 ... Hebe is no first-timer ...
Naomi adds a peppermint striped pergola and a gingerbread man running by
... house & exquisite candy gardens ...
... our collective collaboration ...
... one last photo moment with 3 families of cousins ...
Can you find the faceless child?

The Montreal Metro Ride

Jarvis Cousins ... Take 1
Jarvis Cousins - Take 2
... Hebe asks, "Is this really fun?"
Naomi's face responds with "You decide."

Costuming for the Nativity Pagent

The Re-enactment of the Nativity in the Jarvis Living Room

... a big wave from the actors in the pagent ...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Nous sommes québécois / We are Quebecers

Here is a video I helped produce with the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal.  Hoping you can see the english subtitles if your french is a bit rusty.  This video is meant to remind Quebecers of our shared values of Tolerance and a diverse society.  Quebec will be holding hearings on Bill 60 starging in January.  This bill would see religious symbols banned from the workplace of all government employees.  This would mean Jewish doctors at the Jewish General Hospital would no longer be able to wear kippas to work, Sikh and Muslim teachers, could not wear their turbans or head scarves to work, and Christian would not be allowed to wear large crosses.  This bill would be applied at daycares, schools, universities, hospitals and government buildings. This obviously poses problems for the many devout religious members of Quebec society, who wear religious symbols.

On Being Québécois

Hello from Arta,

I received this charming link from Catherine Jarvis, part of her activism work around her concerns about Quebec's charter.

Nous sommes québécois



If you are so inclined to follow the link, watch the video and even "like" the video, then you would be like Catherine, and hoping for the best in the new year with this project.

The video is in French, with English subtitles which you can bring down with the appropriate link. I watched the video in French believing that the 1959 first year university French Course I enrolled in would come back to me when I needed it.  I was not disappointed.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day on 26th Avenue

... cheese and crackers ...
At our house the Christmas celebration was around food.

At the house next door, the traditional Christmas was held.

The one where the parents stay up late to put out the Santa gifts, where they get up early to help navigate the children’s way through the Christmas gifts, and then they entertain guests for breakfast, and entertain children through the day with their new toys. All of this is done on the minimum hours of sleep.
Harry's curried vegetables
a first on the Christmas Day menu for  us

At this house – there was a single celebration at 3 pm and the celebration was all around Christmas food.

The dishes to produce were divided up: Harry to bring a curry; Philipp to bring an apple streusel; Amir and Pouria to bring the salad and with a gourmet avocado dressing; Trell and Ina – to bring Gerda.

And 83 year old Gerda?

Ina’s mom?

She brought knitted dolls for the children next door.

Remember the novelty doll that you flip the skirt of one doll and there was another underneath.

My children had a doll like that – a triple doll from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the grandmother’s hat would flip over and she would become the wolf. That doll was eventually worn out.
... black salad tongs between the silver set of salad utensils ...
black, the preferred method for transferring salad to a plate
the silver salad set looses

Our dinner was shared by the following people: Bonnie Johnson, Kelve Johnson, Kelvin Johnson, Arta Johnson, Pouria Manesh, Amir Hamedzadeh, Richard, Miranda, Michael and Alice Johnson, Gerda Given, Ina Given, Trell Johnson, Harald Kristen and Philipp Mantzke

 A few things went wrong.

If I were to do the dinner again and do the stuffing in the slow cooker, I would put the stuffing on more than 20 minutes ahead.

The nice thing about the dressing is that it was ready 3 hours later when some of us were ready for seconds.
... creamy mashed potatoes ...

I think other than that, everything was pretty smooth.

Amir parachuted into the kitchen at the last minute and helped mash the potatoes.

Before next year, I am going to buy two new piece of equipment.
... HOT apple streusal... another Christmas Day first

One is the fat separator, where the juices of the turkey can be poured off and the fat can stay in the cup – I always get to skim mine off the next day, which is a little too late to save anyone’s arteries.

And I have been watching TV cooking shows on how to carve a turkey.
Gerda Given and Trell Johnson

So I struck out with that task.

Well, I meant the phrase "struck out" to mean, I tried to do it. But perhaps "struck out" could be taken in the sense of a baseball game.
Philipp Mantzke and Kelvin Johnson

Gerda stood beside me. She has been watching TV cooking shows as well. Besides she has carved turkeys for 30 years.

“Leave the meat on the drumstick. Some people just like to choose that and eat the meat off of the bone.”

Another good tip from her – "Cut the drumstick from the thigh through the joint."

Not that I hadn’t seen my favorite gourmet chef do it that way. I just didn’t think to do it that way when I came to carving up that piece.

The other thing I want to purchase is a flexible carving knife so that I can get down and around the carcass a little better.

I hope I can remember to look for one when I am shopping with Wyona at Winners sometime in the future.

I will probably just buy one on-line, the next time I am in the same house as my Cooks Country magazine and see what they recommend as the very best one possible.
 ... Pouria rests between courses ...

Pouria was a saint. He stood nearby with the lid of the roaster to catch the bones. I was out of large pots by now to collect them in, and both he and I wanted the broth for a great turkey soup in a couple of days.

The downside of boiling the bones is this. Well, first the upside.

It is easy to get the bones going if I just put them in a pot and let them start simmering while we are eating Christmas dinner.

a small stool for a chair, a medium stool for a table
I have that recipe in my head.

Throw in a couple of onions, a carrot or two and 12 whole pepper corns and then let the simmering go on for the rest of the evening and into the night.

 ... Amir and 4 month old Alice ...
The downside is that just as I am getting ready to go to bed, that is when I remember that the simmering pot has to come off of the stove.

The meat and bones should be cooled, separated and the product put out in the snow to cool for the night, since by now there is no room in the fridge for anything more – the fridge being packed with the Christmas dinner leftovers.

And that is what we will be eating today -- the left overs.

The soup will come later.


On Making Billie's Bun Recipe

... the initial look ...
... flour just barely  incorporated into wet ingredients ...
On the food blog I posted a recipe that Billie Bates gave to me.

Forty years later, I would have no idea of how many times I have put the ingredients in that recipe together.

She taught me how to do the dough by hand -- so I must not have had my electric mixer yet.

I did the recipe on two separate days this week.

The first was for the party at Marcia's house.

Amir asked me how I got the goodness in the buns.

I had to tell him that 3/4 of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and 8 eggs in the dough helped a lot.
... after a couple of minutes of mixing,
the dough hook has cleaned the sides of the bowl ...
The camera does a good job at catching the look of the dough at the right consistency. 

After incorporating the wet and dry ingredients, and 30 seconds to a minute or more of beating the dough, the ingredients pull away from the side of the bowl. 

That is when I know I have the right amount of flour in the mix. 

I am always testing for "softness" with my finger. I don't want to get too much flour incorporated -- that will make the dough too stiff and I won't get the same product. 

The bowl I use is just a little too small for the recipe. 

5 across, 7 down
What happens is the dough spins around and then climbs the inner spindle, until it climbs right to the top, swinging erratically on top, but not enough to make my machine walk itself off of the counter. 

I haven't take the time to cut back on the ingredients. 

 I just watch carefully for the five minutes it will take to come to a place where it is ready to drop out of the bowl and into a slightly warm metal bowl where it will rise.
... the dough rests in the bowl ...
you can tell how soft it is.
I have taken the little pieces left in the bowl
after I got the dough out,
and just thrown them on top.
The pieces  just flatten out and incorporate themselves.
I was poking around with this, seeing if I could produce a picture that would let people know how soft the dough should be. 

 So here it is, waiting to rise. Billie used to have me wait 3 hours before I rolled it into buns. 

Now I find a very warm place in the kitchen and this round, the dough was already spilling over the sides of the pan before I got back to it in two hours. 

Those who ate the product wouldn't have known. 

... in 2 hours, dough begins to spill over the pan ...
I just took the dough that was curving over the sides of the bowl, slipped it back on top, did not punch it down, but went right to rolling the buns. 

The guys who live here ate all they wanted. 

The next day they didn't eat any. 

... close up of texture of risen dough ... very airy ...
One is not enough, they say, and five is too many. 

At least 5 is too many if one is counting calories.


My Triangle

... the beginning of my gift ...
Rebecca's post on creative projects reminded me that I had a hand-made gift sent to me by Hebe Jarvis.

The gift began with the design of the gift on a piece of paper.

Hebe's original sketch shows the direction she was headed.

Her mother tells me that the final project was done by Hebe with a pair of scissors.
... the final project ...

But not after colour was added.

I love how carefully she had to work to maintain the original shape of the design with her scissors.

And really, there is nothing like having a picture of the artist, or a small bio about her when I get a gift like this.
 ... Hebe: the artist ...

I haven't seen her for a long time.

It was a surprise to me to see the length of that beautiful black hair. The rest of her looks the same.

The twinkle in the eye and the charm of the smile.

This was one of my best gifts this Christmas --  I received a home-made triangle in the mail.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in Austin with the Bates

We have had a good time settling in here in Austin.

Charise is reading short Canadian stories to Anneliese while Ivan is getting ready to wrap presents.

Ezra just goes around being cute.
Christmas morning began just after 8 a.m.

Trent was the last one up.

The Santa socks were emptied onto the kitchen table and were full of goodies.

We cut a dish of fruit in case someone wanted something healthy.

Ezra found himself a place at the table.

We opened presents one at a time starting with the youngest.

However, Ezra refused to leave the table displaying no interest in any present even though Ivan brought the largest present out and tried to woe him.

Who could be happier than Ezra!
Greg is very handy when it comes to keeping Anneliese happy.
Ezra finally opened his big scooter. Ivan is happy with his small scooter. Jamie is enjoying a look at the family calendar that Jamie is looking at.
Presents have been opened and Ezra is still in his place at the table. "No I will not open any presents Ivan. "
The girls are having a great time together on the couch.
Charise found a way to be the motor on Ezra's scooter.

And a good time was had by all.

And have a good holiday y'all!