Monday, November 30, 2015

Photo Essay - Catherine - Nov 30

Dinner Out with my dad

Lucky's sells Purple Yam ice cream

Go to Lucky's to buy Cheese Ice Cream

Can you guess where I am?
Dad and I had a drive by the lights while listening to Christmas music. Kind of festive.

 Ice cream flavours probably chinese--purple yam we tried and cheese flavour which I photographed but couldn't bring myself to buy.  I did take it to the check-out stand to find out the price.  

It was $8.99, recently reduced from $12.99.  I just couldn't do it.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Food Adventures

I am implicated in the ongoing task of finding new food to eat.  I get this adventure because I like trips, one of which is being at Rebecca’s side when she goes shopping.

B.C.'s Ambrosia
For example, there was a slightly more expensive apple in the produce section, and she bought that, along with three other apples and told me that we are going to have a tasting party – find out if we can really tell the difference between one apple and another. She went as far as to go to Google to find out the original of the Ambrosia apple. Apparently the Mennel Family of Similkameen Valley, B.C. found the apple growing in their orchard. They knew they had a winner when the pickers stripped that tree themselves. An apple is way more fun when it comes with a history like that, though Steve is staying with his own favourite.

The next week Rebecca brought home another variety: Grapple, which arrived in our kitchen with the most fragrant grape smell I have ever encounter. I love it when these exotic fruits come sitting in plastic containers, four apples only. Perfect presentation.

Our usual apples don’t come with the exorbitant price on them that came with the grapes Kelve introduced us to. Whoever heard of Cotton Candy Grapes – I guess the word is food fushion -- strange, a grape and an apple.

Rebecca can’t keep her eyes off of the new and strange – to us, Pomela. either. Duncan has tried it as a drink. I can’t say the same for Rebecca and me. We had it on the kitchen counter with no ide of what to do with it. We watched to u-tube clips so the fruit was demystified for us and Rebecca took up the knife last night to cut into the skin. I was amazed at all of those seeds lined up in the pomelo segment. And there is a trick to getting that membrane off of the fruit and having the pulp remain in one piece.

Rebecca shared the pomelo as a snack as a snack – she couldn’t get anyone else in the house to taste the fruit. No taste adventurers live here.

The last item in her grocery bags were those beautiful black globe grapes. Globe is the word to underline. I popped a few of those in my mouth! A handful = a full meal.

I push the cart while Rebecca takes an adventure in the produce isle. Fun!


Ekaterina Krysanova and 
Vyacheslav Lopatin of the Bolshoi Ballet
 in the "Rubies" section of "Jewels."
Photo by Elena Fetisova

I can't find anyone who will go with me to movies, who is passionate about the ballet, as I am with the theatre.

Still I started to attend the ballets, just to see if I could get a taste for it. I might be getting close -- not there yet, but reading the reviews is a good start. Do enjoy this one from the Herald Tribune if the ballet is on your list of satellite transmission events, in this case the Ballet in Cinema series.  The review is from 2014.  I do not know if we are seeing this danced live or if it is a retransmission.


Where am I?

"Where am I?"

"Where am I?"

That is what Catherine asked when she was in Calgary, making the rounds to find a new place for Kelvin to stay.

I knew right away where this was, but had been tipped off as to what areas she would be driving through in the morning.

When I played in this field there was a little copse of willows at the fields edge.  I made my first outdoor fort there.

I watched this field turn from green to yellow and then be covered in snow as the rhythm of the year would pass.

"Yes -- I'm on 17A Street, looking back at Grandpa's Old House."
This is where our pony, Comet, was tethered in the summer. This is where we picked shoot stars by day and took our bottles out to the field to catch fire flies at night.

In the winter we tobagganed down this hill, trudged through the snow and up again going to and from high school.

Here is where we searched for Richard's and Glen's shoes when it was time for church and we found out the shoes were missing.

Wyona caught tadpoles in the slough at the bottom of the hill.

Add your own story in the comments section if you like.  A lot of Pillings played in that field.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Kenneth Branagh ... and The Winter's Tale

Rebecca and I have been watching the trailers for The Winter's Tale and tonight is the evening we get to see this movie.  Judi Dench looks exquisite in it.
Judi Dench as Pauline
Photograph: Johan Persson
Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company
Garrick Theatre

Here is the Guardian Review which will make people want to flock to the show.  For me, it sounded like the perfect entree to Christmas 2015, if one likes to enter with Shakespeare's most perfect play.

Matt Wolf renders an equally good review in the NY Times and notes that "the more galvanic reason for the show’s sold-out status is the presence of Judi Dench. The venerable dame, who will be 81 next month, takes the supporting role of Paulina, the voice of moral authority in a play whose leading character acts unconscionably, and anchors a sometimes wayward staging with an authority and presence all her own."

I was heartsick when I didn't find it at our IMAX theatre and I thought it was't playing.

But there is another theatre complex close by that is carrying it.  I noticed it is on in a lot of theatres in Calgary, tonight onlu.

Good luck if your schedule is flexible enough to allow you to attend.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hunting Story for Mid November

From Richard

(... since Bonnie asked if he had another hunting story)

It was an interesting day.  We drive into the hunting area at 7am, and by 8:15am I'm dragging a mulie doe out through shin high snow.  See picture.  It's the first time that I've shot hill top to hill top and got something.  Maybe unrepresented in that picture but there is a big valley up the hill and I was shooting from valley top to valley top.  Maybe 350 yards.  Which is a pretty significant shot.

We drove in at 6 am talking about strategy, and I decided that I was going to climb the hill to the right and look down into the valley instead of sitting in the bottom of it waiting for something to walk by.  The climb is steep enough that you need to climb while placing your hands on the ground in front of you.  By the time I'd make the peak chris was still walking in and waved to me from the gulley.

Ten minutes later after laying in the snow I look across and darned if Chris hadn't walked past two mulies on his way through.  I had already shot my mulie but chris had his tag still.  I tried to call on the walkie but my batteries were dead.    I stared at the doe through my scope for 10 minutes waiting for them to walk away.   Temptation really is worse when it's convenient and available.  I planned to shoot it and rush down the hill in fear that chris would hear the shot, walk down and shoot the second mulie.  Then we'd find ourselves in a bunch of trouble.

It was so windy that I was concerned about bullet drift from the gusts, so I waited for pauses in the wind before shooting.  I need about 10 seconds before I can take a really clean shot so I waited until one lull in the wind lasted long enough and took the shot.  The doe kicked like a bucking horse, back legs shooting high in the sky, it ran down the hill 10 feet, walked back up the hill 10 feet, and lay down in the snow for a little rest.  I knew it wouldn't be long before it expired.

I went up to Chris's spot and asked for forgiveness and assistance.  I got forgivness.  He gave me his drag so that I could more easily drag the deer out but alas he wasn't going to help with the drag/gutting.  Once I got the deer 50 feet from the truck and 50 feet out of the trees I remembered that it was windy and I would freeze my hands off trying to gut in the open.  I turned and tried to drag uphill but 200 lbs is much easier downhill then up.  So I finished dragging to the truck and hid behind the rear bumper for a wind break and began to field dress.  At this point I realized I took out my pouch containing knives when I was about to shoot and all of my knives were on the mountain still.  So I left the deer by the truck, shed all of my equipment, and walked back up on my hands and feet.  When I got back it was maybe the best field dress I've ever done, everything went well and there was little internal damage that would cause stomach contents or intestinal contents to contaminate the animal.

I finished, got into the truck and played candy crush until Chris came out of the woods.

I shot a second deer later on in the day, but it was a very plain story.  Driving, STOP STOP STOP, jump out of the truck, lay down, aim, pull the trigger, and throw the deer over the fence and into the truck.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fast Pizza Crist

The recipe below is in answer to the request from Wyona to post the recipe I talked about a few weeks ago.  I give cedit to Miranda for the recipe.  I give credit to Duncan and Alex who like a quick pizza (delivered to the door is also good).

Use the oil that the tomatoes are
are packed in for even greater flavour.
I give credit to Rebecca who pulls the sauce out of the fridge and a few toppings: artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pesto, etc.

She also cuts the ingredients up and when she goes to the store, she buys a squeeze pizza sauce for the boys so they can easily get it on the crust.

We double the dough at this house and it feeds 5 adults, 2 of whom are voracious teen-age eaters.

Pizza Dough

1 cup very warm water
1tbsp (or one packet) active yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp avocado oil (we've used other kinds,  but this gives the best flavour)
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 - 3 cups flour

Proof the yeast, then mix everything together in your stand mixer.  Let it sit while you prep your toppings.  Makes two big thin crust pizzas.

PS  I will put the recipe over on so that you can find it easily when in a rush to make it some cold winter evening.

On eating pears

Part of the pain of morphine withdrawal can be ameliorated with acupunture.  Now I would just have shaken my head in disbelief if someone told me that.  But on the way down, as I take less and less my personal brand of opiates every week, I sometimes experience withdrawal and when I do, I am willing to try anything to escape those feelings.

Thus, with 6 weeks to go until I will be morphine free, I headed off to my second appontment with Dr. Lam, MD and accupuncturist.  During his rounds today he had a medical student with him. I had a secondary question unrelated to the purpose of my appointment; handfuls of my hair are falling out of my head and I wanted to know how to alleviate that.  I told him I would accept any answer, but that he shouldn't tell me to eat more pears.

"I don't say that to my patients."

"Yes you do."

"No I don't."

"Yes, you really do."

"I only say it if they have phlem, " he said to the intern.

Dr. Lam asked the intern to list the possible reasons for hair loss and on the interview went.  Then he put the needles into my body, told me to relax, to breathe into my abdomen and that he would be back in 1/2 an hour.  I am accustomed to going to sleep in 30 seconds or less, but I couldn't make myself go to sleep in the 30 minutes I laid there.

Rebecca was also getting accupuncture at the same time and he went in to see her next.

"How are you doing."

"I am under  lot of stress," she said. "Do you have any ideas for me.  My fridge is already full of pears so don't say that."

"I don't say that."

"Well, I think you do because I buy a lot of them after seeing you."

The Dr. just shook his head and accupuntured her.

On having the needles withdrawn, I bundled up my courage and asked the internist how deep those needles go.

"Some, 1 1/2 inches."

Yikes.  No wonder I couldn't relax into sleep.

What can I say, except buy pears and in times of desperation, try accupuncture.


Egg and Cheese Breakfast

... cooking breakfast on my own ...
Egg and Cheese Breakfast Biscuit
by David


1. Get out a mug, a fork, a teaspoon, a plate, and a paper towel.

2. Open the fridge and get out eggs, cheese, and margarine.

3. Get a country biscuit and put it on your plate.

4. Put 1 teaspoon of margarine in the mug and cook for 25-30 seconds.

5. Use the Ov-Glove to take out the mug and move the margarine around to cover the inside bottom half of the cup.

6. Crack an egg into the mug, fork the yolk, and then throw the shell in the compost bin.

7. Cover the mug with a paper towel and put the mug back into the microwave for 35 seconds. When done it will look jiggly but not runny. Put in for 10 second intervals until it's cooked enough.

8. While the egg cooks get a slice of cheese and put it on your plate.

9. Cut your country biscuit in half using a black-handled (sharp) knife and put your biscuit in the toaster.

10. Butter toasted biscuit and put cheese on one half of the biscuit.

11. Use the Ov-Glove to take the mug out of the microwave and use a butter knife to go around the edge of the cup to loosen the egg from the sides of the mug.

12. Drop the egg onto the buiscuit.

Enjoy with a glass of chocolate milk!

Cooking Time:  30 minutes.

Eating was the easiest thing for this recipe. The hardest bit was figuring out where everything is (e.g., teaspoon, coffee mug) and waiting (while the egg cooked - waiting is so boring). 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Daisy Theatre

I just love the faces on those puppets.
Over the years I have watched the career of puppeteer Ronnie Burkett.  He is playing at the Metro Theatre in Victoria, $40 at the door to a sold out house now.

The Daisy theatre is one of his funny shows while the other shows have explored serious subjects like the Holocaust, AIDS, the second comoing of Christ and the end of civilization.

One of his old characters, Edna Rural of Turnip Corners will be there.  I have always loved her -- she is such a crazy woman, giving out her recipes that include cough syrup and NeoCitran and telling us about her tattoos.

In his travelling show Burkett is bringing 90 of his 500 characters that he owns.  Only 40 of them will come out on stage.

We received an email that says the show is 2 hours long and there is no seating after the show begins.
Harsh for the price of the show, but forewarned is good.

Burkett explores the apocolypse
in Penny Plain
The critic who watched Burkett at the Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York in October called him "a benevolent god: indelcate, a little poignant and kind of fantastic."

Nice for him to have achieved godhood in this life.


Thursday, November 19, 2015


Marlis Petersen in the title role
Daniel Brenna as Alwa in Berg’s Lulu.
Photograph: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Here is the Guardian review of the Met's HD live showing of Lulu.

The review is a charming dialogue between a musician and an artist, giving their impressions of the production.

Everytime I read this review I make my way out to one of its links and think how lucky I am to have all of this information just at the end of my fingertips.

The New York Times review is equally interesting and has its own charm.

The moment in Alban Berg's score where
Lulu makes her famous comment
I have been looking forward to seeing this, especially since I got to see The Nose  last year, which is referenced in the articles.

I am on my own this Saturday.  Rebecca is busy.  The opera is four hours.

Anyone else going?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christmas Lights and Music

 ...guess my most favourite Christmas carol ...
... or post your most favourte carol ...
We have our Christmas lights up.

Easy of course, when they haven't been taken down for 3 years.

Steve did replace hooks that were deteriorating and so things look good on our street, since we are the first to turn the switch this year.

Duncan's fencing companion came over to the house and since she likes to sing, shr and I went to the piano and pulled out the Christmas music, trying to find out which of the songs Duncan already knows.  If the song book's title is 365 Xmas Songs we were sure to find some carols that none of us knew.

We found ones that Stacey and I knew part of -- like "O Christmas Tree".  Easy to sing that song in English but we taunted everyone in the room by saying we could do it in German.  After Oh Tannenbaum, the lyrics became sketchy and both Stacey and I tried to throw in words like liederhosen and schnitzel to fool Duncan who was only listening to this adult craziness.

Other than trying to fake those lyrics, we did some serious singing, going through songs that have been long forgotten until we looked at the sheet music again.  I think one of my favouite songs will always be "Still, Still, Still", a carol few people know.

I was so excited by the chance of singing often before the holidays are in full swing that I went out on a search of the internet to find out the world's 10 favourite Christmas tunes, and then the world's 20 favourite Christmas tune.

What is your absolutely top favourite carol to sing?

I know of a Christmas Concert coming up where Zoe is singing.  She got into the Glee Club this year and even though she has only been going 2 weeks they have asked her to sing in the concert both because she has a nice voice and because she has been quick to learn the songs.  Perhaps the tunes may already be in her repetoire.  A second request.  Someone might put up the date and time of her concert.  Or at the very least post a picture for the rest of us, taken at her concert.


The Fastest Home Made Pizza in the World

... almost plain pizza ...

We are going nuts in out house over Miranda's quick pizza crust recipe.

The ingredients for the crust go together in a mixer for 5 minutes. And while all that is going on, the toppings can be cut in readiness for the last act -- spreading on the pizza sauce.

We say that we can make this pizza faster than one can be ordered and delivered.  I think we are right.  One recipe feeds four of us and the dinner is hot, delicious and everyone gets their version of the best pizza in the world.  For Duncan this means just sauce and mozzarella cheese -- pepperoni on it when pushed but that part is not necessary.

Rebecca wants to carmelize some onions and add roaster red peppers.  Those come from the jar and yes, carmelizing the onions does slow down the speed but that is fine when the first bite of that hits out lips.

Thanks Miranda.  And if anyone wants the recipe, speak up and I will put it over on


Monday, November 16, 2015

Come Hunting with Me

From Richard
360 degree view

So we started at 7am in the place above, which is a  360 view. It's down at the Indian graves campground road. 532RR. We stayed there from 7-10:30 a.m. but nothing woke up and walked around. We liverally didn't see a thing. I walked the spine of the ridge behind Chris and looked up into where the deer usually cross. There was a pathway that would rival a foot traffic path on the U. of Calgary grounds. 5 inches deep and SOOOO well worn. Still, nothing today.

We started driving around trying to find another area where deer might be. The fish and wildlife police were out showing presence and they stopped us to talk. Usually they are looking for poachers, illegal / untagged animals, or if you are driving around with your guns loaded, which is the biggest rule that must be followed. The bullets can be in your hand next to the gun, but if they are chambered then you're getting a ticket.

After leaving the wildlife police we drove north into a willowed grassy foothill and I saw something on the top of a slight hill. It wasn't a deer but the crows were bothering it so I thought maybe a wounded animal that hadn't expired yet. I walked in to take a look. Half way there Chris spoke on the walkie talkies "STOP!" A deer was about to hop over a fence 100 yards in front of me. I couldn't see it yet but I stood and waited. It crossed but I couldn't get my cross hairs on it because I'd been hiking in so hard. I scooted over to the fence line to use the fence post as a rest. I did and took a shot but it wasn't to be. Operator error and the deer hopped back over the fence and into land that we don't have permission to hunt on.

The day was almost over so we decdided to make our way north to Longview and look on the fields going north on Highway22 (Cowboy Trail Highway). We saw two deer wake up and start to feed before nightfall but they were far enough off of the highway that I didn't feel comfortable shooting one and throwing it back over the fence. They were also within a mile of Bar-U Ranch and it's a fairly busy ranching community.  No good so we keep going north.

On a property just north of the 540 we have permission on "Snodgrass" property and a buck was sniffing 4 does. It was 500 yards off the highway and someone else was also parked and watching the herd. So I said let's go but Chris wanted to take a 'pot shot' at that buck even at 500 yards.

The other lookie lou's left so I said let's get them. I grabbed my rifle, hopped the fence and started to crawl towards the herd through the hay field. I kept asking Chris on the walkie what time it was because we were within 30 min before shooting light and it is illegal to shoot. I crawled about 150 yards through the tall grass and still had 20 minutes left. The tall grass was easy to see through but looking through the scope I couldn't see anything but hay. So I took my binoculars (which you should always treat respectfully) and jammed them glass first into a mole hill. Then using that added hight as a rest I got a good look at the look at the doe. She was sideways and not moving an inch. The buck had left by then and there were only does left. I had a great rest on my binoculars and took a 250-300 yard shot which is at the edge of what is a reasonable distance. I also had just switched bullets and wasn't re-sighted for this new bullet. So really... who knows if I was shooting straight or not. Luck was there and the bullet was sighted in well enough. I aimed for shoulder/heart but hit right 6" and up 3", which ended up being her neck and she expired quickly with little/no meat damage.

So a lucky day, just before sunlight, crawling through the grass and having perfectly good fun. We had to gut/dress that deer after sundown which was fairly pitch black but we had head lamps. Then, still full of adrenalin and endorphins I dragged that deer 1/2 a mile over to the road to throw it into the truck. My fitbit says I walked 6.5 miles that day and it wasn't on flat ground.

She got me back. At the end of the skinning I got the sharp skinning knife on the tip of my right hand ring. Three bandaids didn't work and it was still dripping so the cloth was necessary. We all paid due's yesterday. It was a good day. See picture that I sent yesterday for a big old smile.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Shakespeare's Tragedies

Rebecca promised me an evening at the TV -- one where we watched  Troiless and Cressida.

Not know this tragedy at all, I read the plot summary which was too dense for me.

Ouch -- the poster for the play offers us
Brutality of the Highest Order
I took up a pen and paper and began to map out the characters: who lived in Troy and who were the Greeks, who was married to whom and who wanted to be married to whom and soon would be or wouldn't be, and how the families were related from grandparents through to uncles and neices and nephews.

A lot of work.

I sat down in front of the TV in the evening with my blankets and my drink and she started the film.

... and the play begins to wind down ...
There it was before me -- a presentation from the Globe Theatre:  Titus Andronicus.


"Whoops," she said.  "I must have given you the wrong name of the film."

That was not the best start to my evening.  And things just went down hill after that!

This was the bloodiest of the Shakespearian shows I have ever seen.  When it came time for the intermission, I was praying that it was over ... but no!  Another whole act.

"This is Quentin Tarantino-esque," she said.  "I wonder if that director got his ideas from Shakespeare."

I was silently counting my blessings -- the biggest one being that we hadn't asked the kids to watch this with us.

.... Goth prisoners entering Rome ...
If your life is looking really bad, do watch this film to know things could get worse.  The play traced out bad parenting, hooliganism, rape, murder, treachery, racism, mutilation, infidelity, lies, counter-lies, and just bad manners (ie it is not right to serve a guest their own child for supper).

Yes,  Troiless and Cressida would have been a better evening.

Quick Pizza

Miranda has a recipe for a quick pizza dough. Make the dough and put it directly onto the pizza pan. Add toppings and cook and the whole event is over.

She promised Duncan that she could make the pizza faster than she could order it and have it delivered.

She was right.  Ours had carmalized onions, roasted red peppers and a sundried tomato pesto on the bottom.  I don't know why I am looking at this with wonder.  I have already put it in my mouth, had a couple of bites and decided nothing could inprove the pizza, though others might add some parmesan or some hot pepper flakes.

I thought we should put on Xmas music while we ate, but perhaps having Rebecca's friend Stacy over and singing carols for a half hour at the piano was enough.

My sight-reading leaves something to be desired, but people have to gather around to see the lyrics and they just ignored the fact that sometimes I play in D major when the song is in A Flat Major.

Duncan put on some music from his computer, so now I must learn Great Big World's "Say Something", as well as Cold Play's "Viva La Vie".  And then he switched to Bob Dylan's "Wagon Wheels".

So now a third song to learn before I can tempt people back to the sweet and familiar old carols.


'Tis beginnig to look a lot like Christmas

... a cozy rural Xmas setting ...
I truly thought our family was going to be the first one getting ready for Xmas.

Even with Moiya already buying a new tree that has the lights already on it at Costco, even with that, I thought we would get things going before she got her tree out of the box.

But it looks like David and Bonnie beat us all to the punch.  Their kitchen looks great.  I can even see the Vilroy and Boch Ice Village over on the buffet, and I wouldn't have thought to put the tree in the kitchen.  But why not?  That is where the action takes place.

I thought we would be first, for we have already turned our outside lights on for two days in a row.  As well we have gone out and watched Xmas music, both satirized and in its purest form.  What family has already listened to Auld Lang Syne -- all five verses.  Only ours.

I am in favour of the artificial trees -- if only for the reason that the lights are already on.  I think Steve likes the real tree -- if only for the reason that it doesn't have to be stored.

I know I have enough stuff in BC to decorate more than one house, and the same is true in Calgary.  So I am doing a "hands off" in the area of buying new decorations this year.  Tis the season to recycle what we already have ... I hope.



David ranks vegetables:
cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, snap peas

David told me that he likes certain vegetables to eat.

Then he put them on a plate to create a vegetable face for me.

That was pretty cool.  But I could see that near him were the Christmas decorations, which was my first clue that they are already setting up the house for the celebrations that will go on in December.

Not to say that I wasn't further alerted when he showed me the bran muffins he was making.  It is hard not to have my mouth watering.  He must have double-batched his cooking for there was enough for eating, lunches and freezing.

He is trying country biscuits next.  I love the house when it smells of baking.

And speaking of food, we went by 7 -11 a couple of days ago to see that it was National Pizza Day.  One dollar a slice. Who makes up these titles?  Probably a 7 -11 marketing device.

But Miranda tells me that Tuesday is National Bread Day.  How do you celebrate that?

Make bread?

How about just ... eat bread.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Caramel and Fondant

Moiya called a few days ago.  One of her large batches of home made candy had gone to sugar and she was going to reboil it.

I told her that I have such a low success that I usually throw the batch out and begin again.  I am dying to know how it turned out.

In the past few days Rebecca has been making batch after batch of caramel.  We may be on the fifth batch -- and I am intrigued for she pours the candy out in a twelve by eighteen inch pan, making it much thinnner than mine.

Each batch she does is a different:  peppermint flavoured, full of pecans, soft boiled and sometimes a harder batch -- that kind you have to hit against the counter to break.

The real feeling that Christmas had started began when Steve asked me where I would be spending the holidays.

"Here," I said to his surprise, "unless it is time for me to move on."

"Oh no," he said.  "I was thinking about your safety and hoping you would stay until the sidewalks are safe in Calgary.

So we spend a bit of the night thinking about Christmas, having our minds turned to it by his question.  The high point of the night for me was turning to utube and listening to the Ukranian Bell Carol (in its satirical form called Ding fries are done).  Then Duncan turned to Auld Lang Syne,  followed by one of his favourite pieces as well as a song he hopes to never hear again, "Heat and Snow Miser".

He played me two different variations.  Before the holidays are over I may be able to sing it.

We reminised about the time the Jarvis Family arrived to spend part of the holidays here.  My high point was sleeping under the tree with the children.  Some memories are precious.


Lekwungen and WSANEC territory

The panelists at the Fractured Land documentary can all remember to begin their talks buy acknowledging that they are standing on unceded Lekwungen and WSANEC land of the Coastal and Strait Salish people.

That is because we are often hanging out at the University of Victoria or going down to Cadboro Bay.

I thought I would try to acknowledge that I too am enjoying this labnd.  I sat down to eat supper tonight and tried to give my thanks, but still stumble on the words Lekwungen and WSANEC, even though I have tried to spell them a number of times.

Usually if I write something enough times, I can get the new spelling into my fingers.  It will come.

I am enjoying the daily walks around the crescents and down the avenues.  The grass is green.  The pavement is dry.  And the air is so fresh and clean -- the humidity is high.

At the movie someone was mentioning that it is damp now and not quite so light.  I do love the high Alberta sky.  But I am not looking up that much for the joy of that clean warm air is still with me.

All praise to the Lekwungen and WSANEC territory.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

My First Dewali

Wishing you Happy Dewali

My First Dewali tonight. Hard to believe I haven't ever attending this festial before.  Families gathered together to celebrate this festival of lights.  We had sparkers out on the driveway.  There were candles lining the perimenter of the house in the yard and candles all over the inside.

The table was laden with Indian food.  Wonderful spices and lots of vegetarian dishes.

I had to list the names of the people I spoke to when I got home ... write their names in a book for I am starting to meet the same people more than once -- such interesting people and now seeing them with their children at a family and cultural celebration.

Rebecca has been making caramels -- must be close to Christmas.  So that were her food contribution for the kids and then she took along some amazing dahl.

I don't know if people say this, but Happy Dewali to all.


Witness to Innocence

"I think you will enjoy the noon hour lecture," Rebecca said to me this morning.

She was right. The occasion was the  Richard Ginsburg Memorial Lecture in Social Justiice. 

Magdaleno Rose-Avila, Executive Director, Witness to Innocence was speaking to a full house of law students and other individals..  He had t-shirts to hand out to all, and bags.

Free.  What a deal was that.  No catch.

Witness to Innocence is a group of Americans who were exonerated from Death Row and now fight to end the Death Penalty.

Lots of room for thought around the ideas presented at this lecture.


Fractured Land

Caleb Dehn in Fractured Land
Rebecca was on a panel today with John Borrows and Val Napoleon and Caleb Behn discussing the new documentary Fractured Land.

Then we attending the 6:45 showing of the film in the Old Victoria Theatre downtown.

Life is almost perfect when there is a parking spot right in front of the theatre, when the Noodle Box is right next door and can provide supper, and when the rain is falling, reminding me of the joy of clean water again.

Everyone had a favourite spot in the film.  Mine was the young Dene lawyer in a canoe.  Alex liked the part where an animal that was in trouble was killed and then skinned.  Rebecca liked the part where the young activist had forgotten speaking engagements, that luckily, where still in the future.

None of us will be able to stomach fracking any more -- the film brought a high awareness of the environmental danger it poses to all of us.  Oh, perhaps I liked the closing credit which rolls by to say the Caleb hopes to become the Keeper of the Water.That fits right into my politics.

We are home now. Duncan is finishig the evening off with homework.  Last night he and his mother had a discussion about plays and musicals.  Duncan thought he had seen at least 50 in the past few years.  His mother said no -- probably only 20.  So they counted.  Duncan was right.  They counted 56.

Fractured Land will count as the 57th.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day

Rebecca and I watched the Remembrance Day Ceremony as it was televised from Ottawa. I haven't ever seen the whole thing before ... only clips from the news. I watched the wreaths laid, the march by of the Veterans Parade, was touched by the music from the Ottawa Children's Choir and the trumpet as it did The Last Post.

I thought about Greg and wondered today if somehwere someone is asking him to say by heart "In Flander's field the poppies grow ...." If they ask, they will be more than pleasantly surprised.

Hard not to think of think of PTSD, how it has affected our loved ones from the past.  I as thinking about Loyd Bates, specifically, and how the present leads us to think again about the past.

I was remembering the time we spent in London and how we went to the Cenetraph there on November 11.  I remember Glen taking his poppy over to the park and laying it at the Canadian Fountain.

Yes ...  a day for rememmbrance.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Hamlet - NT Live

The repeat performances of Hamlet are playing in our city -- one performance was Saturday and one was tonight.

Duncan wanted to return and see the play again.  He loves Hamlet's madness scene in act i where the madness is acted out as though Hamlet is a toy soldier.

Image from NT Live Website
Unfortunately, that is the part in the show where Duncan fell asleep this time.

I had the reverse experience.  On the initial viewing, I fell asleep in the second act, so I did what I rarely do -- bought popcorn in the second half and those little white buttered kernels kept me awake.

I am dying to know how the Brooks kids enjoyed the play for we know they went tonight as well.

Rebecca's high point of a second tiime viewing is the chance to watch the acting a little bit more.

I spent a lot of time watching the lighting on the faces of the actors, and I think I enjoyed both the slow motion blocking as well as the strobe lights.

I have always loved the scene where Hamlet talks about playing the clarinet with his friends.

And Ophilia's madness was done so well with her body as well as her words -- I couldn't stop watching the jerky motion of her feet.

I can hardly wait to hear how you guys, did, Mary.  I was pleasantly surprised again to see that the IMAX theatre in Victoria was pretty well full again.  No one in the very front seats and a few people sat on the sides.   But the middle of the theatre was a full house.

While Duncan was watching the clips that precede the movie, the ones that show how many productions have been available to us, he could name the ones he had seen and there weren't many that he has missed.  I was thinking back to the first year I heard about the opera.  Catherine's children were little but she had taken them to a performance of Hansel and Gretel.  It took me another year to get hooked and now penciling into my calendar when the performances are is a happy part of my day.

Some good ones are coming.  The ballet is on the 15th and Lulu on the 21st and then another ballet on the 29th.


Vitamin K-2

Two or three Dr.s have been advising me to add Vitamin K-2 to my diet, as a way to promote bone health.  Hearing this once or twice would have been enough, but the suggestion has been coming from everywhere.

Rebecca decided to see what foods promote Vitamin K-2.

Natto.  Japanese natto.  Apparently natto has 1000 units of Vitamin K-2, far outstripping any other food.

Rebecca watched videos about natto.  The words stinky and slimy dropped from the lips of the commentator many times.  And the woman demonstrating how to eat this said that the chop-sticks have to be twisted around and around to prevent the fine cheese like strips from landing on a person's chin.

The fermented soy beans are to be eaten on rice, with a mustard sauce and some green onion strips added for freshness.

Even the clerks at the Japanese grocery store warned Rebecca against buying the product as well, two of them coming over to the refrigeration unit, hovering and warning her that she might not like the experience.

Rebecca has a high tolerance for adventure.  I have a high tolerance for new food tastes.

We are on our fourth package of fermented soy beans now -- both of us are getting our vitamin K-2 the natural way.

Others in the house flee the kitchen when we take the seal off of the package and begin to beat the soy beans to stimulate the stringy glutonous mass that surrounds them.

Nothng like fermented soy beans for an adventure.


Pouring in Victoria

      Photography: Rebecca               Elk Lake 

It is evening and pouring rain in Victoria.

I took my walk at noon in the sun -- 40 minutes on the pavement, down to Sierra Park and around some cul-de-sacs I have never walked.

Such a joy to be in the sun and to walk on dry pavement.

The rest of the family took time to see the new James Bond movie: Specture

My only TV watching was with Steve. He watched two soccer matches.  Both were against Manchester -- the second was their game with West Brom.  I wanted to know what Brom stands for.  Apparently Bromwich, a city in the Midlands.

I was asking Steve every question in the book, never having seen such a sports exhbition where capitalism was in the forefront of every shot:  telegraphed around the outer perimeter of the game in neon lights, on the t-shirts on the players, on the leather seats of the sports managers and coaches.  I have never seen beer advertized in every language, the signs flashing as the ball was being kicked in, or thrown in from the sides.

I missed seeing James Bond.  Apparently there is something in the  show for people of all ages.

I really enjoyed the soccer on T.V., especially when I was reminded of the Midlands (the home of the losing team).  It wasn't very many years ago when Wyona and I had $700 passes to ride the British trains for 12 days.  We had to have passed through the midlands, for we went up one side of the British Islands, down the other, through Scotland, along Hadrian's wall and then up and down the middle of that beautiful island.  I have forgotten all of that until watching soccer.

I heard Steve saying he can hardly wait for the next Sabatical to London so he can see these games live.

I like watching sports from the comfort of a cozy chair.



Saturday, November 7, 2015


Photo: Rebecca Johnson        REGATTA

Someone called to see if Rebecca would volunteer at the Regatta today -- "We just need someone to read the numbers over the microphone and announce where we are in the programme."

I could see by the slump in her shoulders that being at the Regatta at 8 am in a volunteer capacity wasn't the way she was wanting to spend the day.

This was even more so last night, when The Three Penny Opera didn't end until 11:30 pm.  That is the problem when a musical is still under copyright and there are restrictions on its performance.

Had the sun been shining, things may have also been different but you can see the clouds are behind the hills and the sun only comes out between the rain that falls lightly, and then heavily.

I thought a Regatta was a promise of a sunny day, flags flying and concessions selling hot dogs and popcorn.

As you can see, none of that is so.  A good part of the day is that she can wear the new rain boots she purchased, Chilcohtin in design, red and black -- works of art even though they are meant to take ones feet through the mud and rivulets that are everywhere.

The rain is making the grass so green in Victoria.  I get up every morning believing that there will be snow.  That is not the case.  Here, a welcome surprise to me,the yards are always green and today, the regatta is wet.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Mount Doug / Fall Concert

We attended the Mount Doug Fall Concert to listen to the concert bands, the choirs and the jazz bands.  Rebecca leaned over to me and said, "There is no doubt about it.  These high school performances are wonderful to listen to.

The house was brought down with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", a grade IX violinist just killing it with her bow on the strings.

The Men's Choir made all of us lean forward with "My Girl".  There is a certain bravado high school males have when they will join the men's choir and then put us in the isles with our cheering.

I am not a fan of anime movies, but the last number was from Joe Hisaishi and arranged by Yo Goto, "My Neighbor Totoro".  The students knew the piece.  Their bodies were swaying to the music and I worked at listening up.  I don't want the musical world to pass me by because I haven't been listening.


The Three Penny Opera

A friend asked, "Where are you now?"

That is a question people often ask Wyona, but I don't do the same kind of travel.

Each day is so full I want to blog about it, and then the day passes and I am out of blogging energy.

Tonight we are going to a live performance of The Three Penny Opera at the University of Victoria.

Poster from University of Victoria
by Bertolt Brecht
Msic by Kurt Weill
I spent part of the day learning (or would that be re-learning) the plot and familiarizing myself with the story.

I am going to be familiar with two songs: "Pirate Jenny" and "Mack the Knife".  Of course, the performance said no one under 16.  Both Rebecca's boys got snuck in by their mom.  The subjects are difficult [and duncan says maybe 'inappropriate'!.  For example, here is the Pimp's Tango (as it was performed at the Tony Awards by Cindy Lauper and Alan Cummings).

So, where I am:  Victoria.

And what I am doing: going to listen to the director talk for an hour before watching the performance of tonight's show.


And hours later:

An hour's lecture from the director, and then an opera with two intermissions -- Rebecca and I are both laughing, and still in shock. Now we have two shows we want to return to:  Hamlet and The Three Penny Opera.

The Victoria crowd is not your usual audience.  They were articulate with the director, and when he tossed out the names of the realist playwrites, as opposed to the Brectian ones, they were right back at him with questions.

I have some googling to do, since one of the questions was about the Beggar's Opera, from which this opera sprang.  The director said he had never heard the Beggar's Opera and someone in the audience knew that Benjamin Britten had put a piece of it in some requiem.  Well, who knew?

Rebecca got her boys there, me there, herself there ... and we all stayed until the live band had played their last notes, which included a solo from each, just as they do with the Jersey Boys in London.

Now how was that for a cool evening.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween - Rocky Horror Picture Show

Shadow of witch, in her hat
... viewing the dusk coming in ...
"Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).  You have never seen it?"
...Halloween Eve falls at the lake...
... in a few moments the bats will begin to flit through the sky ...

I had to tell people, no, I had never seen the show.  Sometimes a cult film can just pass a person by for one decade and then another and then another.  All the way from the plays inception in 1973 as a musical to now.

Gillian had two tickets to see the show at a local theatre.  Those tickets already had names on them, one of them being Duncan's.

In preparation, people who had never seen the movie, also go to see the moview in a family viewing the night before.

We had everything -- the treats, the pre-reading done, and the movie downloaded.

I didn't know about the throwing of the toast nor the rice nor the spraying of the water, nor the dancing in the isles.

I was to learn all about this on the Friday night viewing.

And I was a passenger in the car as Ben and Duncan were dropped off at the corner of Quadra and Johnson Streets to join the queue of people showing their electronic tickets and being given entrance to the theatre.

When it is Halloween, I can't really tell if people are dressed up or not.  At least not in all cases.  For example, the person standing in line on crutches?  Were those crutches props, or the real thing.

At the intermission Duncan sent his mother a text saying, "This is better than I had ever imagined."

On the way home the men told us that it was just not the people in the isle seats that were dancing.  They reported that the whole theatre was alive with folk finishing off the evening with one last dance.

To refresh your mind if you are like all others, or just to say them again if you are new to The Rocky Horror Picture show ... read on:

(Guests) Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
(Narrator) It's just a jump to the left.
(Guests) And then a step to the right.
(Narrator) With your hand on your hips.
(Guests) You bring your knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust.
They really drive you insane.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.

I should have learned these moves while I still had two flexible hips!