Monday, December 29, 2014

The Wish Bone

... you have to pull with your pinky ...

When I was young the world was full of opportunities to make wishes: a wishing pond, a falling star, the candles on a birthday cake, and a loose tooth.

At Christmas, the wish bone from the turkey gave a 50% chance that you could get your wish – fifty to you, fifty to the person holding the other edge of the bone

Technique is everything.

Is it better to hold your side of the bone high? 

Hold it low?
... this might be going wrong ...

Should I pull and twist to make the crack go to the other side of the bone?

Are there enough dried wish bones to give a person real practice.
... wait until I get a firm grip ...

I remember one year mother saved the wish bones from every turkey, starting with the turkey for New Years and going through Easter.

Then Thanksgiving brought some turkey meals, as well as a couple of turkeys at Christmas.

 And she was known to have a turkey dinner – just for no reason, other than to invite people in for Sunday dinner.

 The wish bones she saved were to be spray painted gold at Relief Society, decorated with a bow and hung on the Christmas tree.

 That project was done in in the days when money was tight and decorations from the tree were hand made.

 No disposable income at all, let alone money for decorations.

... It worked.  It worked.  The wish will come true...
Remember the time she made decorations from egg cartons, taking the 2 of the cardboard depressions, gluing them together, painting them and then using a sprinkle of sparkle for the finishing touch?

 Or how about a church made from a box and the roof was corrugated cardboard.

 That one was a beauty … at least to me. The golden wish bones hung from the tree for many years.

But the year they were made is the year no wishes came to our house from turkey bones. 

We had to count on falling stars.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Christmas Dinner

a touch that shows the cook really cares ...
the silverware wrapped in napkins
My plan this year was to do minimal decorating.

 But someone wanted to borrow my decorations early in December for a display at the university ... and once those decorations come out of their storage, it seems a shame not to use them just one more time.

 There isn't a box that isn't full of decorations I love: the nutcrackers, the red plush stocking to fill, the silver beads, the tea light that plays "'Twas the night before Christmas".

 I love them all.
... red plates for a red hot meal ...

And some of our friends were leaving before Christmas day -- one to a job at the University of New Brunswick and another spending the holidays in Lebanon. 

We  began the season with the First Christmas Dinner.

The season is meant for celebrations and for us it occurs around the table.

Out come the plates, the silverware, the napkins, the bowls we don't usually use, the turkey roaster ... and then that smell in the kitchen of new buns or perhaps of turkey dressing as it steams for hours in the slow cooker.
 ... mushrooms for the vegetable ... 

I was interested in Pouria and Amir who wanted to do a true turkey roast -- none of this having the turkey sit in its own juices and steam.

 So they tied a rack to the top of the roaster, binder twine holding it to the handles and they places the turkey on that rack, all of the juices behind caught below.
 ... the turkey was brined for 24 hours ...
... 1/2 pound of butter was smothered
between the skin and the flesh ...

Did we have fun? 

You bet. 

There is nothing like hearing international students shared stories having to do with food. Some at the table had caught pigeons and eaten them. One woman's job as a child, had been to run through the field and find the pigeon her father had shot and then to crush its head against a rock so that it wouldn't suffer. 


 This December -- our First Christmas Dinner -- a time to remember.


Ranginak - a surprise

... eating one piece leads to another ...

Just when I think I have tried everything sweet in the world, another confection arrived. Sahar brought ranginak -- made by her mother. Amir knew how it was made: fresh dates, walnuts and a coating of butter and browned sugar. I went out to utube, my favourite place to see how other people make this. I am sometimes tricked into thinking because I can see the recipe made in four minutes, that I can replicate the same time frame when I try to cook it myself.  On this one, I know I can't.

Sahar said her mother has the special knack for making it.

'Twas the treat of the day for me.

 Every day, the best day ever.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Family Christmas Dinner

 ... the dinner is finished ...
the children have gone home
...the adults pull out the treats ...
we bring on the beverages of our choice
... we talk long into the night hours ...
We have an invitation to go out on Christmas Day – we are going to Miranda’s, so we celebrated our own Christmas on the 24th.

 I was wild with happiness in the kitchen, for the point of the day seemed to be to make every dish into ‘the best ever’.

The previous day I made three loaves of Hutterite sized bread for the stuffing-- recipe says that you must have 1 1/12 pounds of good quality bread. 

I went to the trouble to weigh it.  One Hutterite sized loaf of white bread = 2 pounds.

 Pouria, who masterminded the Xmas Dinner ...
When it was cool, I cut it up and dried it in the oven so the aroma was there again in the house – that warm comforting smell that makes me think all is right in the world.

I confess, I am always tempted to bring on the Stove Top Stuffing but Pouria was going to so much work with the turkey that there was shame in my desire to make this “the easiest supper” ever instead of the best one.

The turkey begin thawing 2 days before the brining, -- in a 6% salt solution into which oranges and lemons had been dropped. “I really think a 4% solution is enough,” said Pouria. I grabbed my spoon to have a taste of the brine – to know how much salt that it. The answer? Stronger than I want to gargle with.

The next day the bird was patted dry, the skin lifted and the flesh rubbed with whipped butter and herbs. Pouria tied a cooling rack on top of the roast by securing it to the handles with twine. The turkey sat on top of that roaster, the juices dropping down into it, the heat perfectly circulating around all sides of it – this turkey was roasting, not stewing. The neck, gizzard and liver sat in the bottom of the pan, creating a rich broth for the gravy. Actually, I think this turkey was missing a heart. Pouria was looking for it. Somewhere in the world, someone must have a turkey with 2 hearts.
... Amir and Michael discussing the importance of life ...

Hard for me not to feel humbled when I see someone working in the kitchen as hard as Pouria works. He takes on his cooking projects as though they are honours theses – who wouldn’t want to stand by and watch.

He was doing the major part of the food preparation. I took on the job of the minor job of cooking whole carrots, first steaming them to strengthen the cells and then cooking them for 45 minutes in the 12 inch frying pan. The book said that this style of carrot is popular in restaurants now and a pine nut / parsley / shallot / fig balsamic relish was the garnish.

The fig balsamic vinegar is good enough to drink on its own. Who needs the carrots?  Just go straight to the garnish.

Richard sent over some deer sausage from the Gourmart Butcher in Bowness for his contribution to the meal. We put it on the cheese plate. The sausage is so delicious that the dinner time conversation turned at one point to “how are we going to get more wild meat”, the men at the table finding out how to take the course that gives them government ID so that they can get hunting licenses and buy the appropriate equipment. I just couldn’t type guns there but I just should have said it outright.

Alice and Michael joined us when the meal was ready.

 Richard warned me that Michael can’t really sit for 10 minutes, even if it is to eat and Alice has even a shorter shelf life.

 They came downstairs to see Kelvin before the meal began and Michael found the candy tray – specifically the Swiss Delice Chocolate where each piece is individually wrapped.

 I could not tell if the joy was in peeling each paper back until he found the chocolate, or in popping it in his mouth.

... the food looks better across the counter ...
He brought a handful of chocolate to the table when the meal began. Everyone needs a bowl of chocolate as part of their condiments.

We had a wonderful meal – spice in the mashed potatoes, wine in the gravy and the stuffing had been in the slow cooker for 8 hours and was so moist and delicious. Yes. The best Christmas ever.

Around the table was Sahar, Amir, Reza, Pouria, Kelvin Jr., Kelvin Senior, Miranda, Richard, Michael, Alice Margaret and me. I have been remembering Lorraine Wight saying, “Family is who they say they are”, so I am longing for a picture of the 6 of us who live in this house.

“I can’t believe we used to have fifteen at this table sometimes,” Richard said. “Eleven of us seems crowded now.”

“Yes,” said, Kelve, “and we used to get the gifts we wanted from Santa, long after we didn’t believe in him anymore.”

“And there were lots of presents. That they were all from the dollar store, or that they were jars of hand cream or hair shampoo didn’t matter,” laughed Richard.

... white meat on one tray ... dark on the other
“I want to come to your house and watch the kids with Santa in the morning.” That was my wish.

“Too late,” said Richard. “Santa came on the solstice to our house, bringing lots of educational toys. Tomorrow there will be other toys, coming from grandparents and it just seemed best to us to spread the joy out over the whole week.” I guess I will have to pay more attention to the solstice next year and get over to their house on my own.

Wyona called at 6:30 and said, “Have you eaten yet. If not, all of you come over. We have so much food and all of us are topped up.” Yes. An overwhelming array of wonderful foods in many homes in the next few days. God bless everyone who shares their largesse.


Greetings from Annis Bay

... the thinkers ...
Merry Christmas from Duncan and David.

They choose to sit in invisible chairs for this candid.

After a full day of electronic gaming, Duncan went off to see Into the Woods.

Christmas holidays is a time to relax all of the rules around gaming and film viewing.

Just bring on the holidays.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas from Dave and Moiya Wood

From Moiya:

We had a nice visit with Desiree and Brandon for four days before heading out to Utah. We went out to Applebee’s for supper on my birthday and there they presented me with a lovely Calander with all of the families pictures and special occasions on it. It was given to me by the whole family as they worked together to compile it. I think it was Michelle who orchestrated this. Thank you to all! I love it.

We have not been to Utah for a very long time. There is no snow here down below but I see some at the top of the mountains and I think some people are going skiing in Snowbird but with man made snow. Caren and Mike had been up there the day before they picked us up on the 16th. We have been treated like royalty while here. Caren and Mike loaned us their car and we got to see Sam and Cailie and their sweet new baby girl. We also got to see Lisha, Richard’s wife and their son and daughter. Such cute little ones!

Caren had baked many varieties of cookies and made delicious chocolates. We visited several Down East Outfitters stores and got to visit and catch up. On Friday Pete and Jane came from Boise and they are staying here with their boys until the 6th of January. John & Merrie, Pete & Jane, David & I, and Ian all sat down to a lovely meal together and then went downstairs to their theatre room………and I mean a BIG theatre room. It is a overhead projection onto a huge screen. We went through all of the slides from Vi and Lorraine. It was fun for the boys to reminisce.

That night we headed up to Bountiful to stay with John and Merrie. We also took time to go and visit my cousin Kristine & Reid Frederickson. So fun!

 We also got to see my beautiful Aunt Estelle who is 87 years old and still wears stilettos. She has moved to Alpine, Utah from Salt Lake City to a lovely home there. Stacey lives not far from her. I did not get a chance to see Stacey. Our timetables didn’t jive. Too bad for me!

Once again we were served royally by John and Merrie. She won’t let me help out in the kitchen because she loves to serve her guests. Every meal is perfecto! And so lovely.

We got to go to the Tabernacle on Sunday morning to hear the spoken word. The choir is amazing! We also went to see the beautiful lights on temple square and got together with Pete and Jane, and John and Merrie last night at Crown Burger to visit once again.

Now we are ready to go board the plane to head out to San Antonio.

More later. We love you and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Love David and Moiya

Hand-made Gifts

Snowman in a mug

Rebecca's idea for a homemade gift
From Catherine:

We went shopping in order to buy Rebecca supplies so she could make a home-made gift for a friend.

 It is for a gift exchange with her volleyball team.

The only criteria is that the gift had to be home made. The dollar store is a wonderful place.
... hand-crafted gifts ...

While at the dollar store, Hebe saw a straw cup and kept asking me to buy it.

I kept saying no. Finally, I remember that she had received money to buy a gift for herself. I said to her that if she really wanted it she could use her Christmas money to buy it.

She looked at it a long time, and then told me she wanted to buy it. I guess that means she really wanted it.
... the Christmas craft table ...
... wish it could last all year ...

The last step is to clean up all of the wonderful products used to make home-made gifts.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Photo from the Jarvis Family


Hello from the Jarvis Family

And now you can make the choice.

As the old song goes, ... he's making a list ... and checking it twice ... gonna find out whose naughty and nice?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Discovery

"This is the best party ever."
From Catherine Jarvis:

At the Mandarin Ward Christmas party, Santa made an unexpected visit.

The children, including Hebe ran to the front to embraced him. It was a beautiful scene.
"I know you.  Your name is Santa."

When I arrived at the front to take a photo, Hebe looked at me with a puzzled look.

She then began to scream, "It's daddy, it's daddy."
"All I want for Christmas is ... let me think ...."

Much to my surprise rather than being disappointed or shocked she found the whole things hilarious.

The discovery was a moment of pure joy. Hard to fool Hebe.

What was even more delightful was that my teenagers all wanted to get a photo on Santa's lap.
All of the Jarvis kids take a turn on Santa's knee.

This made me smile. You can't help but enjoy the number of adults who also joined in the fun.

Santa was as busy with the adults as he was with the children.
"Who wouldn't want to climb on Santa's knee?"

Although Santa is a complicated issue, you can hardly criticize that fact that he brings many people a lot of JOY.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


... helping grandmother chip ice in the back yard ...
In the time it takes other grandparents to drive to see their grandchildren, I can slip in the back door of the house where mine live, have a game of tag that exhausts all of us, and then get back home.

That is the beauty of living next door to each other.

Our version of the game of tag is taking on serious variations.

We use the same space – we run through the dining room, through the living room, down the hall, across the kitchen floor and we are full circle to the dining room again.

... exchanging my ice chipper for grandmothers ...
...hers seems to work better ....
We can run the circle clock-wise or counter clockwise.

We can hide behind corners and scare each other.

We can run around tables or chairs, or under or over them, or move them so they are in the runners way.

When I was young I liked watching the boy scouts play the game of tag where you only have to grab a handkerchief out of the pocket of the runner to tag him.

... figuring out how cold this ice really is ...
Michael and I have set up variations on that game, mostly because we don't have the right equipment.

First we used a piece of paper towel.

The next day when I came over he told me he wanted to play the game with the towel and I couldn’t remember what we had been playing. 

The penny drops slowly for me.

The next night when I babysat, Miranda had hidden the paper towels, so we used a wash cloth.

Today we had a lovely white silk neckscarf that floated out of our pocket as we ran the tag circuit.

Alice is collateral damage.

She can’t help but get in the way and gets knocked into walls or sprawls out in the middle of the floor from one of our chasing rounds. This morning she was standing on the tag track and I saw Michael shove her out of the way; the chips she was eating rose in slow motion out of her bowl and then scattered directly into the train room.

 “A major sweeping job in there now,” I thought and called out to Richard, “one casualty down – see if you can get her out of the way before we pass this corner again.”

I am busy taunting Michael as I run and to the pentatonic scale I sing, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo, I am faster than you. I am faster than Grandma Joan. I am faster than Great-grandmother Joan. I am the fastest woman in the world. You can never catch me. You are the slowest.  I am the fastest.”

... kings exe ...
truce term in a child's game
... studying the difficulty of the ice chipping problem ...
 I ran so fast that my hair clip flew out of my hair and strands of white hair were going every-which way.  I couldn't see where I was going.

“Hold on. Stop.  King’s cross,” I cried out. “I have to fix my hair.”

I explain to him that when my fingers are crossed we have to put the game on hold for a minute and then we can race again.

 I tidied myself up and continued running.

“Hold on. King’s cross,” he soon cried out.

“Why,” I asked.

“I have to fix my hair,” he said, running his fingers through his brush cut.

Copy cat!

One of these days I will have to teach him soon is that if you cross your fingers while you are telling a lie, the lie doesn’t count as a lie.

But first I have to teach him how to lie.

Grandparenting is hard work.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Peter Pan: The Musical - candids

... the characters behind the characters ...
"Second to the right and straight into morning."

That is the line that will let you know where Neverland is.

All you have to do is leave your window open at night and someone will probably come for you.

J.M. Barrie wrote his book so long ago.  Still we honour it with references to it in novels, in TV shows, and in audio dramas.

I try to get Michael and Alice to play "Peter Pan" with me, but the minute that the name of Captain Hook comes up, the game is over for him and he is hugging his father's knee.

... sitting at the make-up table ...

John in pyjamas and top hat, hanging out with the lost twins
There are many specialty jobs for people who aren't dramaturges -- one is looking after the lost boys when they aren't on stage.

Marcia had her camera and did her best to show how hard it is keep track of people who are right in character as soon as they get their clothes on.

Hard to believe that this is a volunteeer job.

Marcia can still arrange for  you to get tickets if you have missed the show.


What I want for Christmas -- or imagine that others would want ...

From Mary

Off the top of my head, what do I think would be fun for Christmas?

Some cross country skiing with someone who loves coss-country skiing.

And over the holidays, and on Christmas day afternoon in particular?

For Christmas presents?

How about a “gift certificate” that a person can cash in to go cross-country skiing with you, and bring a friend?.

Or a certificate to try snow shoeing one Saturday?

 Do you think a cross-country skier would pick out a new hat or head tube for outdoor activities?

Or a small backpack to wear while skiing for water and snacks.

What I want for Christmas - Hebe

... I really wanted this ...
From Catherine 

My favourite gifts are coupons and notes.

Money is good too with the idea that a child can pick out his own present with you on a date.

In terms of fun activities how about a Christmas movie fest with Christmas Story, the Grinch, Tne Polar Express, Home Alone 1,2, and 3, Charlie Brown and The Sound of Music.

Drink hot chocolate and eat pastries.

Stay in pyjamas all day.

No brushing hair or washing faces.

... and what is inside tastes so good ...
Or eat breastfast cereal all day.

Make pancakes for dinner.

Wow. Some of the ideas on my list sound really good. I think I'm coming over.


P.S. For Christmas Activities, carolling is m favourite.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Peter Pan: The Musical ... epilogue

There are a few performances of Peter Pan: The Musical left.

The last time I saw this show was when Theatre Calgary presented it, many Christmases ago.

Then, Dalton and Ceilidh were the children in the audience.  Ceilidh sat on my lap and I could feel Dalton's body pressed against mine for the length of the show.

Zach and Gabe pose with their friend, Aiden, and with Audra
There is a lot going on:  pirates, fights between pirates and Indians, fights between pirates and lost boys, a dog lonely for the children who have gone missing, parents longing for their children to return home.

And worst of all, lost childen recognizing that they need mothers to cook for them, clean for them, and to sew pockets in their clothing.

Hard to know how any of these themes can make this show fit the classification of "comedy".
... Zoe gives a hug to a lost boy ...

If you are intereted in a lovely evening out, get in touch with Marcia.

She may have a few tickets tucked away in her purse.


Peter Pan: The Musical ... the afterward

Smee and Audra
There is a chance to speak with the performers once the show has ended.

Just meet them in the lobby with your programme in hand.

They will sign so that you can have a memento for the occasion.

As well, you can ask them any questions you have when the show is over.
we are pointing to Zach and Gabe on the cast poster

Audra is one of their repeat audience members.

She may have seen four performances now.

And she doesn't seem to get bored with any of the show, but sits on the edge of her seat as though she is seeing it for the first time.
 ... Audra, Captain Hook and the Princess ...

Do you remember the part in the show where Tinker Bell drinks the poison to save Peter's life.

The only way to cure her is for audience members to believe in fairies.

They can show their belief by clapping their hands.

So far ... there have been enough believers in the audience, that Tinker Bell gets to live.

That is one hard moment in the show -- one where the audience suspension of disbelief makes it possible for her life to continue.  I clapped and hollered as loudly as the rest.

Peter Pan: The Musical - count the hours

... catch the beauty of the make-up on all four ....
could be a free-for-all in your mother's make-up bag
so appropriate for lost boys
Community theatre is a pretty wonderful place.

During the intermission I heard a little girl next to me say about the last song we heard, "I tried out for this musical.  That is the song I had to learn.  It was so hard, no one knows how difficult it is to sing."

She was right.

Difficult music.

... two lost boys and Peter Pan ...
Hours of rehearsals.

Driving to and from the practices.

Giving up other social events because they conflict with scheduled rehearsal time.

Waiting for other scenes to finish so that your scene can begin.

Spending your time backstage while others are watching the total performance.

Community theatre ... a pretty wonderful place.


Peter Pan: The Musical - In the beginning ....

... waiting for our turn on stage ..
Here is part of the show no one sees:  that hour when the make up goes on, the hair is coiffed, and the costumes are taken from the hangers and putting lost boys into character.

At the same time, families are bundling themselves into cars and getting to the foyer early.  No admittance until well into the first act.

Children are being put to bed, characters are flying through the air, fairy dust is being sprinkled in the air,  dogs are barking at the presence of unknown and unseen characters and a mom and dad are getting ready to go out to dinner.

... getting in character ...
Pre-performance work is going on downstairs.

Make up is being applied.

Lap tops are keeping actors in their seats and waiting for cues.
... gettng Zach's hair "right"...
The hair does feel more like having your mom scrub your hair when she is mad at you.

But there is no turning back.

There is only one way to get into character.

And that is by becoming one of the lost boys -- you know, the kind who need someone to cook and clean for them.  And to sew pockets on ther clothes.

More later ....

Pics for this post were supplied by Marcia Bates

What I want for Christmas ...

A few days ago I was trying to think of what I want for Christmas.

Moments later I couldn't find my glasses.

The thought came to my head, "Really, all I want for Christmas is to be able to find my glasses".  Probably I should have added, "And after I find them this time, I want to find them every time I miss place them this year."

Yes.  A heartfelt Christmas wish.

And as the song goes ... "I don't want a lot for Christmas ...."


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

French President Mauel Valls and the Salt and Pepper Mills

Our neighbor was travelling to France to visit a friend and wanted to give him gift.  He is a chef, and so she asked Leo to make a set of salt and pepper mills for him.

Yesterday she sent me this picture of her friend with French President Mauel Valls. 

Can you spot the salt and pepper mills?

(Photo Credit:  Philipe Bruchot)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Moiya

Photo: Marcia Bates              LtoR: Moiya Wood, Wyona Bates, Arta Johnson
Happy Birthday, Moiya.

Only a few short years ago, this is what we looked like at Lurene's wedding.

Now nothing much has change.  Just the fact that we have spent many happy hours in each other's company since then.

Get back from your holidays soon.

Wyona and I need a shopping trip with you.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Peter Pan - a second cousins event

"I watched your show.  Will you sign my programme?"
Michael and Richard went to see the community theatre production of Peter Pan.

I heard about the experience this morning.

Captain Hook was frightening to Michael and required about one half hour of hand holding during the show from his dad.

Wendy and Michael have a dog in the show named Banana.

The dog missed them very much when they were gone on their adventure.

The Darling children did go out the window one night and fly over London Bridge.

 Michael told me that part of the show was done by magic.
LtoR: Gabe Treleaven, Michael Johnson, Zach Treleaven

We pulled up some of the utube songs from the show and tried to sing them this morning.

A good time was had at the performance as well as in its retelling this morning.