Sunday, January 25, 2015

curling on the porch

On the second day I was here at the Shuswap, the snow began to fall.

Not steady in the small flakes that are falling now.

That day the snow was coming down in long flat soft sheets that seemed to have clumped together somewhere in the air.

I dragged my chair up to my window.

Clasped my hands in my lap.

And watched, as though I were seeing a movie.

There had been many snowfalls.

The porch needed to be cleaned off, but the panes of glass needed to be taken out of the deck railing.

After three panes were securely tucked against the house, I began to shovel.

The temperature had hovered around zero and the snow was wet and heavy.

Too heavy to just put the shove to it.

I had to take the shovel and real off a small clump, and even that was too heavy for me to lift.

I would drag it along the porch to the opening and then give it a shove.

Only once did I loose the shovel with the shove.

At least I knew enough not to hang on and go over with it.

Bonnie grabbed a shovel and worked from the other end of the porch.

It was only near the end of the task that she thought it would be a good time to practice curling now that there was a long slick path.

One of us was crouched down low and was to "throw the rock", and then the other was to try to "sweep" to direct the rock to the opening in the railing.


The next day I went to visit Wyona.

As I walked up to their house I heard a noise that made me know Greg was out shovelling his porch as well.

He had been using a small shovel, and picking up just the right amount of weight and tossing it over his rail (since he could not take apart his rail).

He told me Dave had brought over a bigger shovel and told him this would be easier.

Greg said, "Yes, easier. But I still have to measure the amount of weight I am going to pick up and throw over this rail. This has been more than a one day job."

Winter is the same everywhere.

Our snow shovels and icepicks in against the house.

And we keep paths open to the car, the sidewalk, and to the homes of well-loved neighbours.

Glen came by one day and I asked him, what are you here for?

He said, "I wanted to call you on the phone, and then I thought 'hey, she is just four houses away'."

Winter couldn't be lovlier.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Mid-Winter Ice Cream

It is never too cold for ice cream. 

Naomi and Rhiannon had the day off school.  So they went on a daddy-daughter date to see "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Rotten, No Good Day" movie.  After, Leo took them to a Cold Stone Creamery.  You order hard ice cream and any toppings you want and they mix it by hand in front of you then put it in a cone.

When I asked Rhiannon what toppings she picked she said, "sprinkles, cookie dough, oreo cookies, and some other stuff I forget.  But I am sure I had more."

Talk about heaven.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Merry Widow - report from Moiya

Kelli O’Hara, center, during a rehearsal. CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times
I have been a movie junkie all day.

First, The Merry Widow. Then, Mommy.

The Merry Widow was excellent. I would go to that again.  I am just looking for an encore.

The costumes were remarkable; the set as well.

I thought I already had my money’s worth at the very beginning when we got to see the pit and the mistro. I was a little perturbed that he didn’t point down to the orchestra at the end when they all came out to bow. What was the matter with him? Does he think it is all about him?  :-)

Pat Dumeaunxeau came with me in person and Wyona came with me, virtually. Pat and I went over to see Pete at the Seniors Residence when the opera was over. We stayed for a while and then I took her home.

I went to Dairy Queen, called Bonnie Wyora and she came over to visit with me there.

She asked me if I was movie-ed out and asked if I wanted to go to the film festival at 5 PM with her.

Salmon Arm has a fabulous film festival. I was game for another show.

We went to see Mommy (2014, Xavier Dolan), -- "a widowed single mother, raising her violent son alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbor inserts herself into their household".

I ran the gamut of emotions today for the second show was a drama -- a lot of pain in that movie.


PS More reviews.  Let's heat what the critics have to say about The Merry Widow.

The Merry Widow - report from Wyona

From left, Renée Fleming, Ms. Stroman and Ms. O’Hara.

CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times
I went to The Merry Widow with my sister, Moiya, today. She went in Salmon Arm.  I went in Calgary.  We both knew we were watching together.  I too ate popcorn. It was fabulous.

I am going to the encore when it comes on Feb 28 and on March 2nd.  I only wish Glen and Janet had been there with us, wherever they were. I am sure my Mother was watching from heaven. I knew a number of the songs because my mother played that record so many times when I was young. "Vilya" reminds me of my childhood, being at home with my mother, Wyora.

Vilya oh Vilya
O witch of the wood
Would I not die for you, dear, if I could?

Vilya O Vilya my love and my bride
Softly and sadly he sighed.

Then I listened to a number of artists sing it on you Tube. Kimm Skota is unequaled in her version of it with Andre Rieu. I had never heard of either of them before.

Kimmy Skota...Vilya Song performing with Andre Rieu-Live

Then here is another version of the song.

Vilya oh vilya oh let me be true
My little life is a love song to you
Vilya oh vilya I've waited so long
Lonely with only a song

Neither of these versions were in the production of the Merry Widow which Moiya and I saw today. The words today were again different. I tried to learn them and I did and then I forgot them.

I am looking forward to the encore is Feb. 28 and March 2nd.


PS  If you never tire of reading reviews, here is another from The New York Tines about this production.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Merry Widow

Kelli O'Hara as Valencienne with the Grisettes
in Lehár's 'The Merry Widow'
 (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

Here is the New York Times review of the Merry Widow, televised to a theatre near you today.

My mother had a record of this opera and played it many times.  I know one of the songs so well that when Wyona hummed it over the phone to me yesterday the title of the song came to me:  Delia.

I was amused to read in the newspaper review that the correct name of the song is Vilja.

Oh well, I was close.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Mary

Guess what I am thinking in this photo ....
For your fortieth birthday, I think you should buy yourself 40 new fabulous pairs of shoes.

Since forty is the "Ruby Anniversary" make sure at least one pair are ruby red.

Since forty means more silver hair, some silver shoes to match.

Be sure to spend at 40 days at the Lake this summer.

Plan for 40 mornings of sleeping.

Go for 40 leisurely morning walks down Bernie Road.

Since the forties were filled with big band music, turn on some music from the "King of Swing" and "Sing, sing, sing." Perhaps take a swing dancing class.

Of course you will need some dance shoes for this new class.

Buy yourself glass to make 40 different glass beads. There is a new Glass Artist in Sicamous, so spend 40 hours with her this summer perfecting some of your technique.

And for my part, I will raise a toast of 40 raw vegetables to you today (cherry tomatoes, sugar snap pees, baby carrots, and yellow pepper chunks), so I have a longer life to enjoy even more celebrations of the birth of Mary Matthews Johnson.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Turning 40 tomorrow

I am super excited to be turning 40.

I wonder what the number 40 means to all of you.

I would love to find a few minutes to write down 40 things that it means to me.  But I am just too busy.

I guess that is one of the things that 40 means to me -- no time to contemplate, too busy enjoying the life I have.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Treasure Island - Sept 22

Photo: the Guardian
I love going to the movies.

I don't know how I have missed seeing Into the Woods this season.

It seems every other family made it there.

I noticed NT Lives production of Treasure Island is coming up and has good reviews.

The show is recommended for those 10 +.

Even if you don't think you will see the show, check out the Dec 11th review in The Guardian.

Susannah Clapp gives a Dec 14th review in The Guardian with the same kind of accolades. I don't know why I read this book when I was younger.

 Patsy Ferran, left, as Jim Hawkins withArthur
Darvill as Long John Silver in Treasure Island.


 Giving someone the black dot on a piece of paper so that they will know it is their turn to die tonight.

What kind of dastardly act is that mate?

If you like the reviews,then join me in a couple of weeks and enjoy Treasure Island. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snowmaggaden, Salmon Arm Style

From Bonnie
Erik and Noela making good use of their sled
after trying out their new snow blowers capacity to make a pile over six feet tall.
I made it to work in spite of the huge snowfall.

I had slept at Joaquim' and David's place s so I can't report on the lake situation.

I had to shovel the road from the driveway to the well-travelled road that had been plowed. (1 hour).

Joaquim had aleady shoved the walk and the drive (1 hour).

And this is after me shoveling last night (1 hour).

How fun.



From Catherine Jarvis

I almost never allow myself to be interviewed by the media.

One exception: Uninsured pregnant women in Canada.

Below are several articles that came out in the french media today.

You can read my opinons here--

La Presse

If you can't follow the French stick the article in google translate. You will get the idea.

Not that many people will care, but I do.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gingerbread Houses

Rhiannon wearing arm bracelets
Seeing pictures of the cousins making their gingerbread houses this holiday season brought back many memories of gingerbread.

 My strongest childhood memory is that a gingerbread cake appeared on our table sometime during the festivities. 

Warm and fragrant from the oven with deep dark spices I wasn’t used to: the ground ginger, the crystalized ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, and molasses – those weren’t the ingredients that my mother usually cooked with.

Catie working on the roof.
She seemed pleased when the cake came out of the oven.  I didn't like it, but I kept trying it.

This is the season that brings other ginger memories.

 I am in love with the triple ginger cookie recipe. A recipe that should always be doubled.

And there is a ginger bar that is sliced on the diagonal when it is warm and sprinkled with sugar.

And now I have digressed.  At the table the gingerbread cake was presented with a lemon curd, or perhaps a lemon sauce.

Or if the cow had given up a lot of cream that could be whipped, then the top of the cake was almost covered with whipping cream.  Then I liked the cake for what I ate was ginger flavoured whipping cream.

Naomi doing the landscaping
That is when I liked it best – more whipping cream than cake.

And there is a ginger bar that is sliced on the diagonal when it is warm and sprinkled with sugar.

The easy way to have children decorate gingerbread houses is to use graham wafers as the frame for the house.

Not really fair to call those gingerbread houses, even if the colour is right and royal icing is used to fuse the sides together.

I am wondering at the gingerbread fest that is pictured in this post?

Leo, Hebe, Xavier, Rebecca
Who was the master gingerbread chef?


King of the Coyotes

 Photo courtesy CBC: (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) Winter Comes to Canada
I wanted my camera this morning when I got to the corner of 24th and Crowchild. Trail. The snow was glistening on the road, broken by the long black tire marks where the cars were going north and south. Cutting across those lines at a 45 degree angle was the shadow of the light post. Even the shadow of the traffic lights hanging over the road was highlighted on the ground. The snow has been falling all afternoon and evening.

 Richard did round one and shovelled the walks. Pouria and Amir picked up shovels later and they took the second layer of snow off of the sidewalks. In the morning I pulled out the shovel and clean the walks again – there has to be a clear way for Kelvin to get to the handibus and all of us are making that happen.

“Those tracks are from the King of the Coyotes,” Richard said. We had stopped to examine the tracks wondering if they were made by a coyotes or by a deer. “Coyote. The King of the Coyotes. Look how large that track id. He must have been out looking for a rabbit for breakfast.”

We could hear the squeak of the snow under our boots. The walk was slow – ploughing through the newly laid glistening white blanket slowed us down. We could only guess where the sidewalk was. Both of us were in our best winter gear: I was wearing my new face mask; he was practising with a thin baklava over his head. “I learned when I was biking to work that keeping warm means two pair of socks, doubling up on the head gear and keeping my hands dry and warm,” he reminds me.

He had been out on the internet, trying to find a way to bike to work. It looks do-able if he can just find a way to get over Barlow Trail. The desire to double up on the necessity of getting to work and the desire to exercise along the way is a hard one to put to rest.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Walk in the Park

Our morning walks continue through the holidays. Six am – Christmas morning, New Year’s Day, the weather dropping to 18 below with a wind chill of -28. Nothing stops us. The cold is a bitter pill to swallow, and we turn back when either of us gets too cold. Richard says his signal is when his thighs begin to feel the chill. The sidewalks are clear of snow and the lighting along 24th Avenue to the Children’s Hospital is perfect.

The lighting is good in the West Campus park as we walk down to the duck pond. One street light close to the benches at the duck pond seems to work in reverse. As we approach it the light goes out. As we pass on by walking further down the hill the light comes back on. We wonder how the programming went wrong with that light.

Richard walks close to the pond and then calls me down there. I need to take his hand so that I don’t slip on the big rocks I have to craw over. “Look. People are walking out on the ice. They are crazy. If they fall through they will die. What an awful chance to take. Notice that there are animal tracks down by the pond as well. But the animals are programmed to know not walk out on the ice, so we only see their tracks here, skirting the edge of the water.”

We stop by a tree that has been decorated: Christmas balls, silver icicles, some sparkling garland wrapped around it, and a sign: Decorated by the Grade VI Class at Brentwood Alternative School. I wish I had brought my camera. Richard says, “Look we know how tall they are for they could only reach up this high.” The next day when I go by there alone, I notice that the Chinook has blown the sign out of the branches of the tree and it is on the ground. I reposition it and think of the Grade Sixers who had beautified the park.

This morning as we walked, Richard bent down low, pointing out a perfect rabbit foot track and saying, “This one almost looks like you could take an imprint of it and hang it on the zipper of a winter coat. Perfect in every way. We stop to observe the place where the rabbits have slept during the night. The snow has melted there and a little patch of brown grass is exposed. We also look at the scratch marks where the rabbit has stopped to dig down and get some grass to eat.

I have been told that there are voles under the snow when I have studied pamphlets about nature, but I haven’t seen evidence of that until today. The snow had melted above where they have their runs and those trails were now visible. Richard agrees that we are lucky to have seen that.

We have studied the snow looking for tracks until even I can identify the deer, the coyotes, the rabbits. And at the intersection Richard points out the frozen print from a human being. The street beggar has walked off of the sidewalk at the street ight and has walked the hypotenuse of a triangle to the railing at the meridian of the road which is where he does his begging. That path has frozen now and I cand see the imprint of his boot there in the ice.

I have blogged about the street on the north west corner of Crowchild Trail at 24th Avenue. I take care of the street light there. I take down posters of events long past and remove the For Sale signs and the “tutor for hire” posters with the tags where you can rip off his phone number and call him. But I don’t take those down until the semester is over.

The day after Christmas we stopped at the lamp post to pick up a ziplock back full of treasures: a toque, some toothpaste, some Kleenex. The bag was half full of goodies and written across the front of it was “Merry Christmas”. I am guessing someone had put it together for the guys who beg for money on that corner – they beg jusg around 4:30 pm when employees are pouring out from their office space. “I guess he just took out of the bag what he wanted and left the rest,” Richard remarked.

The street on that corner is ghe place where we pause to pick up garbage usually – a newspaper that has blown against a light post, a Starbucks coffee cup on the ground, a half eaten Tim Horton’s donut. In a small crevice above the walk button Richard digs out a needle and syringe, partially full.

“Look what we have hidden here. I guess he left this for tomorrow. Better to leave it hidden here than to have it on you, if the police pick you up. I am conflicted. Leave it here or take it away. I guess the right think to do is throw it out,” he says, holding it in his hand which is no longer swinging by his side, but semi-stationary against his jeans. When he reaches the first garbage bin in our lane he opens the lid and toss the needle away. “All of us try to keep our children protected, and this is in my neighbour, a place I want to keep safe for Michael and Alice.”

The weather has been perfect for walking, hovering around zero. Still we can’t forget that there have been some cold spells where we have felt chill blains on the thighs of our legs of on our cheek. Richard as been looking for a face guard for both of us, but no shop seems to have them. “I am batting zero every place I go to find them,” he tells me. A few days ago he found one: Dakota; Face Guard; Cold Weather Protection.; Performance Neoprene Face Mask for Cold Weather.

He has been practising wearing his, even though the weather is good. “Just getting it used to moulding to my face,” he says.

It has a fleece backing and a hook and loop closure at the back for adjustable fitting. I haven’t practised with mine yet. Instead I take the weights in my arms and I try go get used to the feeling of holding those. Occasionally I do arm curls with them. But I can only do one thing at a time, so practising with the mask practise will have to wait until the cold comes. The weather forecaster says that the cold begins tomorrow. I will build some time into my schedule to practise getting the on and off.

Sometimes Richard and I shake our heads at the wonder of having such a perfect place to walk. The university keeps the snow off of the street and the city has the road that leads to the children’s hospital well lit.

We know the people we meet along the path now: a woman with 3 dogs (one of them is a tiny little pup that has attitude); the man on the bicycle whom we meet on the park path. He shouts good morning as he passes by. We remark to each other that he is coming so fast that we would never recognize him without his bicycle and his winter gear. Richard opines, “That lucky guy. I biked to work for 2 ½ years and I loved getting to work, having a shower and feeling so good. I hated go give up the perk of that job.” The man who walks his dog at 6 am in the park is holding fast to the leash and the dog keeps the leash taut. “It is trying to go hunt the coyotes in the park. He knows they are out there, but they will just make him a piece of their breakfast.” We chat for a while. “Yes, I walk my dog three times a day,” he says.

“Doing that is probably going to lengthen your life-line exponentially,” I think to myself.

We see the employee on his way to work in the maintenance building. He doesn’t nod at his for he listening to his MP3 player. And we see the night watchman leaving the building site of the new apartments on campus. As he is leaving the first shift of workers are coming in, lunch pails in hand. A few are taking their last smoke as they walk along the sidewalk.

In the past, Richard pointed out that there is a big pop dispenser on the outside of the builder’s trailer. Today he laughs as he points to the north side of the trailer and says, “Look, even they have a Christmas tree. It is easy now to join in the holiday festivities.. The tree has lights embedded in it. Just open the package and plug the tree in. Voila. The Christmas spirit in a box.”

Yes. The Christmas spirit everywhere – at the building site, on the tree decorated by the Grade Six Class, and in us as we walk in the early morning.