Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Fire Alarm

This morning, the fire alarm went off when I was searing the boneless leg of lamb roast. Around here the fire alarm sends a rush of anxiety through the dog, at the very least. Rebecca’s fix for the piercing noise, after having to get out of bed, was to take a firm set of papers and wave them in front of the fire alarm sensor. My fix was to open all of the windows and to get the fan above the stove working, but that didn’t really work.

“That noise is the result of my first time searing a lamb roast,” was the best I could say to Steve.

“Well, I thought it was the time for the coffee,” he replied as he came up the stairs.

I have a sign on the slow cooker now.

Do not look in this pot. If you do, you will set the cooking time back one hour. 

So far, only one person has looked.


The Earth's Alarm

The shaking of the earth sometime past 11:30 pm was new to me.  The vibrations brought all of us from separate parts of the house and together in the dining room.  We seemed to need confirmation that others had felt the tremor, though I don’t know why.  My first earth quake – a 4.1 the newspaper reported.  Only when I walk down by the coast, I think of the sunamis that come out of nowhere.  An Albertan never thinks much about earthquakes, either.  I fear dying by drowning.  No chance, said Rebecca.  Think of how far you have to climb to get from the ocean back to the house.  At any rate – the earth’s geological alarm:  an earthquake.  And I felt it.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lego Face Off

Two 10 year olds.

Same number of bricks in size and quantity.

20 minutes.

Lego Artist 1's description: A person without hair ... [add sdd add] now he has a mullet.

Lego Artist 2's description: A house that turned into a garage but it is still a house. One door, no windows.

View from top, back, and side.

We are looking for categories for awards ...

E.g., originality, completeness, etc.

Bonnie Wyora

The $6 Movies

Jennifer Lawrence
Robert de Niro
Bradley Cooper
I mixed it up today – a walk to the movies where I saw Joy (2015) and then a walk back home. I didn’t know the day would come when I would be interested in how the shopping channel works. For me that was the best part of the movie. Now I am not a fan of the shopping channel – no staying up past midnight to put myself in debt buying sequined gowns or strings of semi precious beads. But the $6 for the matinee was fun.

I stopped in at Tim Horton’s on the way home.

I hate it when I can’t find anything good to eat there.  Nor  could I find anything good to eat at the concession bar at the theatre.  The chicken chow mein I had tossed together before I left was the biggest call for food.  Yum.


Christmas Recycling

CANDY BLOX: build 'em & eat 'em
Candy Blox. That is what the package reads. And yes, it is the candy you can play with, and then eat, one of the gifts Duncan is trying to trade off from the magnificent haul of stocking stuffers this year.

If you con't want that consider his Wrigley's Hubba Bubba game -- the instructions for playing are on the back of the package.

The only drink that has appeared for recycling is the Hop Soda.  One can was enough of that.

And then there are two tins of meat:  Spam and Deviled Ham Spread.

I told Duncan, "That spam was a product that we would shred in the '60's, add some mayonaisse and chopped sweet pickle and use for a sandwich spread."

"Well, that was in World Ward II," Duncan replied.

Mmm.  Nowadays, 20 years off is still pretty close.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Elsewhere

I face-timed Mary and Leo to see how Christmas had gone for them. A storm that included high winds came to Aylmer the day before Christmas, downing a large branch on their electrical line. Now that is a big downer – Christmas day and no electricity. They cooked their turkey next door at the neighbours so all was not completely lost, but there is an irony in Xavier getting a new computer for Christmas and not being able to use it. Naomi was luckier – she got books and Rhiannon got a beautiful play pony – those old fashioned toys worked well for them in an electrical failure.

Bonnie and David were invited to the Woods house and they took along a gag gift Bonnie had picked up at the dollar store. One of the nastiest presents ever – a gag toilet. When you open the lid of the toilet a stream of something arcs out of it and hits the person who opened the seat.

 Bonnie and David wanted to “get” Uncle Dave with the gift, but Reggie was so excited he couldn’t keep his hands off of it, even though he knew it was his grandfather who was to have the first peek. He was mad and to make things better, Bonnie asked Autumn if she could open it next and take the hit, to calm down Reggie.
Photo: Moiya Wood
... before the snow fell ...

Autumn agreed, but just at the moment when she opened the toilet seat she ducked to the left and the water streamed out and hit Oscar. Now two people were mad. To calm everyone down, the group agreed, the next one to open the toilet seat should be their grandfather. He agreed to try it and when he did, instead of ducking or getting mad, he just opened his mouth and drank the water as it streamed out of the gag gift. That made everyone laugh.

Photo: Moiya Wood
... the larch trees turn orange ...
On the side of having a wonderful meal, Moiya had prepared a turkey, home made cranberries, gravy, a ham, whipped potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh buns and butter, a carrot medley and she brought out Nanaimo squares and other treats. The day seemed calm for only Des and Brandon and their family and Dan and Marina and their kids were there, as well as Matthew and Stacy with their two little ones. The other seven grandchildren were either in Texas or Edmonton – and there is always a certain quietude when everyone is not present.

3 super cool hardy new toboggans from the Farm Store in Kamloops
David grabs his sleigh and runs outside whenever the group go sledding – riding down the hill is more fun with others.

 As an aside as well, and tucked in the house after the toboganning,  David uses his multiple controllers for a game so Joaquim and Bonnie sit down with him and the battles begin.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Cooking Planners

Aunt Catherine's Cooking Planner
Boil turkey bones and take meat off.
Use the broth to make a good soup.
Put in lots of turkey pieces.
Add your choice of vegetables.

Don't forget 3 or 4 garlic cloves.
While his mom is looking for a way to fully use her Passion Planner, David is looking for a cooking planner.

He wants to plan the meals for every night of the week.

My idea is don’t go buy a cooking planner, David.   Just a notebook will do.

The best way is to think of the 7 best meals you could ever eat, and then have one for every day of the week.

 I don’t know what those would be for you, but let me guess.

Some guys your age would like to have a hamburger every night of the week. Maybe that would be your bliss. Or how about a hamburger one night and a hot dog the next and the third night, spaghetti, and then just keep rotating those three meals. And then when the summer comes, you could rotate through every Subway known to man, but make them at home.

You see now how easy it is to have a Meal Planner that is personalized. You be the planner. Just figure out your favourite meals, make the grocery list to buy the stuff at the store, and voila. You can have each of these meals ready in the time that it takes to thaw your hamburger bun and cook your hamburger in a skillet. The hardest meal is the spaghetti, but not if you use a prepared sauce. Harder if you make your own sauce, which tastes better, but the good thing is that you can freeze the sauce in small portions and then just microwave it when you get home.

I didn’t add in making pizza. But on the other blog is Aunt Miranda’s recipe for quick pizza crust. That is so easy to make that you can have pizza faster than you can order it. Just put the ingredients in the mixer, let them go five minutes and while the dough is being mixed get your toppings ready.

Yup. No need for a meal planner, once you get the idea that you can eat whatever your heart desires just be doing some pre-planning. Now, good luck.

And tell me how you do.


Arbutus Cove Beach

I meant to walk for 45 minutes north on Gordon Head Road today. At the San Juan Road junction I saw a mother and child, shovels and a pail in hand, walking down to Arbutus Cove. I shifted my plans and followed them, all 66 large steps from the brow of the hill down to the beach. That is where I found the mother and child again, this time the little guy gathering different forms of kelp to take home.

I found a plastic bucket to use myself, thinking about the discussion we have had at home – plastic, really coming into circulation in the 1940’s for the first time, and about how it doesn’t decompose. So I brought the basket, now full of kelp, back home, the basket going into the recycling.

The little boy and his mother told me that they have watch utube videos and that it is possible to dry the kelp and put it in an omelette. “Good luck at getting me to do that, “ said Rebecca., when I got home and explained to her my new task. I don’t know why she is resistant.

 She is never happier than when she brings home sushi from Fujiya. We occasionally have natto and what is life without a snack of seaweed: Kimmy, made from the finest Korean seaweed. She savours every bite of that while others are eating their chips.

I hadn’t checked the tide, not thinking I was going that way. So the water was lapping up against the drift wood. Little rivulets of water were flowing through the sand and into the sea. Some family who live on the brow of the hill have a wonderful set of steps going up to their house. The last set of steps that take them to the ocean were pulled up high enough that no one could use them. But I could see that they would easily swing down when someone from above wanted to use the beach, the same one we were walking on – so only their stairs were exclusive, not bay that I was enjoying. I ducked under a tree and it snagged the hat I was wearing. I held onto a large log and stepped on a smaller one at the place where the ocean did lap the shore and would have got my feet wet without the alternative path.

I stopped and watched a freighter on it was through Haro Straight.

My kelp is drying in my room. Rebecca says she will only eat it if it is flattened and salted.


Mini Oranges

The size of  the oranges?  
As illustrated.
One of the amazing pieces of living here with Rebecca is going shopping with her.

She stops and looks at the shelves, searching for something new to eat. That is an easier task in a restaurant when looking at a menu.

At the grocery store we have to look at every bottle or can or bag on the shelf.

 But sometimes she just grabs something we have had before – like the mini Mandarins. In the case of the last bag she thought she grabbed, what arrived home were mini oranges, not mini-Mandarins. Until she spoke up, I didn’t know she was having the same trouble I was having. The peeling is hard to take off. Usually I have orange juice all the way up to the second knuckle of my fingers on both hands, before I get the fruit unpeeled. Further, the time it takes to peel the orange is far greater than the time it takes me to eat it.

“Doesn’t seem worth the work,” she said, when there was finally a minute when we were both eating the oranges.

I haven’t been seeing much of her, and neither has anyone else. She has papers to mark – 102 of questions one and two. She could do 3 per hour when she began. Now she can do 6 per hour, which means her speed has been doubled now she knows what she is looking for in an answer, but there isn’t much hope she can go any faster than that. So her time is spent sequestered in her office marking. That is, until Duncan wanted to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens again.

Yes to the sweetness of slicing.
They headed out to see the show last night and were back within the hour – the theatre was sold out. All they could get was tickets for the 11 pm showing. That is a late show for me. All of the treats in the world on my lap, I would still not be able to stay awake, so I stayed home … and ate oranges.

They are sweet and delicious and fun to eat now that I know to cut them with a knife.


Duncan loves Christmas

... a logo to be desired ...
Duncan loves Christmas. His dad offered to give him the cash that would otherwise be spent on a fresh tree. “So near to Christmas, it really isn’t worth getting the tree,” Steve said.

 That was no argument for Duncan.  He would rather have the feel of Christmas than the feel of cash in his pocket.

He likes to have the outside Christmas lights on and he likes to have the tree lit. When I go to bed at night, I sometimes turn off the tree lights but he is still playing games in the family room.  When I get up in the morning, the lights are back on the tree that is in the front room. It is the last thing he has done before going to bed. Turn them back on. How can anyone love Christmas more than that.
... one of 100's of o2 logos ...

Christmas morning brought two traditions I am not familiar with. 

One is that the presents under the tree come from people far and near, fictitious and real.

 One from Elizabeth May, one from Darth Vadar, one from Steven Harper, one from Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. One from Billy Idol, one from Darth Vader, one from Lucifer, one from Barak Obama

When unwrapped there were lots of electronics and new T-shirts. 

I have never heard of O2, but those shirts were keepers.  I heard words of gratitude all day about those gifts.
... candy bought for the fabulous box ...

As well, though the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, they had been stuffed with newspaper.

 There is no way that the stocking stuffers would have fit in the stockings, had the stockings been long enough to hang down to the hearth.

There was the Kinder Express Surprise Train, a Gingerbread Spice Chocolate Bar, Hemp Heart Bites, a can of Hibiscus Soda, a jar of Simpkins Sweets (Royalty Style).
Simpkins ... for a royalist
When Rebecca saw those on the shelf at the store she said, "I just have to get these for Alex. He is not a royalist and will laugh when he pulls these out of his metaphorical stocking. "

I am just wondering whomever  else has had a CLIF bar: Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch – the ingredients are 70% organic in their loot bag. Even 3 days later, it is hard to to laugh with all of the fun – making it is one of Rebecca’s gifts.


Saturday, December 26, 2015


 ... two sizes ...
I looked out on the blog, in fact the whole blog – 7 years of chatting. Posts by many others.  I tried to do my part.

I know why I hit just about my all time low of doing posts – once by legs slowed down in the summer, so did my typing. The bad math is that I thought, surely if I type a bit over the holidays I can finish off the year with a post a day. That won’t happen. I thought I had only ten to go, but no, 30 in 5 days is expecting too much from me. It is time to start wrapping up the year though – move phone numbers from the 2015 daytime to the 2016 daytime or add birthdays of new borns. How about going through every page in that old daytimer and try to see if there are any things on those lists that I might still be able to do? That would be frustrating. Better to leave those things unnoticed and also undone.

Rebecca and Bonnie have switched over to a new style of planner. Passion Planner. 

There are places for work-to-do-lists, personal-to-do-lists, and one list for “infinite possibilities”.

 I just bundle all three categories on a piece of scrap paper and glue it into my no-frills book.

 But then they have a monthly wrap up with lessons learned, what you are grateful for, memorable moments of the month. 

Maybe I will switch over next year.


Christmas Shopping

I have two pair of jeans – both used, the best way to get jeans. One fits perfectly, but the other is on my hips and I need a belt, which is going to up the cost of those jeans by a considerable amount, given the jeans were free.

 ... desperate as I was, I just couldn't buy this pink one ...
I doubled up today – a walk to the store for said belt which is two for one: exercise and a new accessory.

My normal size 34 belt doesn’t work, I was prepared to jump one size, but not two, which is what I had to do, I discovered, as I stood there trying on belts at Canadian Tire.

Do I have no shame -- trying those belts on in the isle, seeking one that would do up without having to cinch my body in.

Tim Horton’s is on the corner and Canadian Tire is tucked in behind it. There is always a long line-up of cars at Hortons, even making it dangerous to walk there ... except for today.

No cars at Hortons.

And the Canadian Tire isles were empty, even with their 70% sale.

Rebecca and I have the groceries to make spring rolls, and I thought I might get some butter lettuce to add to them, but no butter lettuce and a sad day when a person goes into the store and there is nothing to buy. I did see some customers at the deli. I think I will do that when I get too old to cook. Just stock up on those lovely salads. But until then, I will be happy with the new belt and hope that it represents how low I am wearing these jeans and not pounds gained around the waist.

I hope I am the only one with this fear.


Christmas - Time for Collective Viewing

We hopped in the car and went to view It's a Wonderful Life: snacks, the big screen, a movie from 1946 that has lasted the test of time.

And the price was right -- $6 each.

Our theatre was full.  I was worried that we would never get in, but no, the long line up to get past the concession and into the theatre was created of potential Star Wars viewers.  They like to come costumed.  We were in our Victoria wear: light coats, and no snow gear.

"A good movie, a really good movie," said one of the boys.

I wonder why that one has stood the test of time?


Christmas - Food

When I think about extended families on my side, if there are children, they are mostly grandchildren now. What brought this to my mind is the large amount of food that is consumed here by the 14 and 16 year old. The dishes are hardly done before someone is looking in the fridge again.

So when Rebecca and I shop we try to find something that wasn't eaten last week, or the week before.  Normal, I think to look for something new.  I wanted to cook a turkey for Christmas but turkey has a bad wrap here -- too dry they say.  That might be true the way that I have cooked it in Christmases past.

Rebecca slipped some endive into our cart this time. "We are going to have that wonderful salad we had in Paris last year," she said.  "I had learned how to do it in Spain and I think I can find the recipe on the blog."

Endive, either stuffed with corn, tomatoes and olives, or stuffed with mandarin oranges, walnuts and feta cheese.

Now this doesn't supplant turkey, but it was a lovely mid-day Xmas snack to stave off that usual over-snacking on ... chocolate, chips, even those lovely mandarins, I can't stop eating.


Christmas Creche

A new creche -- so large!
Catherine sent me this picture of a new creche, wrapped under their tree, one that is much too big to store, I thought.

She had face-timed me around her house a few days ago and I saw another new creche, but only two pieces.

One she bought in Spain and all she could afford for now, she said. So there on her shelf was minimalist Xmas as far as the nativity scene, only Mary and Joseph, but sparkling in tiny pieces of coloured glass.

I was reminded of the elaborate creches I saw in Catalonia -- not only Mary and Joseph but whole villages, women by wells, merchants in stalls and whole villages.

At any rate, back to Catherine's house.
The Creche unwrapped

I laughed when she showed me the creche unwrapped. Yes to a surprise of epic proportions. Gifts, not always what they seem.

From Duncan's hands to Rebecca's a gift was tossed, but it bounced off of the couch and hit my leg.  How could a cylindrical gift have that weight, I thought.

I picked it up and tried with braille to see what it was. I was as surprised as she when it unrolled into a magazine:  The iPad Manual: Bring your iPad skills right up to date with the new IOS 9 and its new apps.  Even though I don't have an iPad I read through the manual. Beautifully written and so clear.  Rebecca said, "Even though I know 75% of what is in that book, it was excellent to read the pieces that I don't know."

The adults had agreed.  No gift exchanging.  But there was a large box for Steve.  Opened, it contained the keys of the new-to-him used car he has been driving for a couple of months.  And Rebecca feigned surprise over a present she had probably wrapped herself.  Yes, it was her empty iPad box -- a new iPad she called out with amazement.  Her old one was swept up from my house and stored in the garage last August and to be without one hurts -- for her.  She uses it when she teaches.  There can hardly be a better  testimonial for an iPad than that.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Eve eve

our raclette -- exactly as illustrated
Duncan wanted the Christmas tree lit, the outside lights glowing, the house lights dimmed, Christmas music playing, the family all around the table and …. raclette.

And so our Christmas eve began, beverages in our goblets, cheese to melt under the grill, and proschuttio warming on the grill in front of us. 

Baby potatoes, purple and red, had been preboiled and mushrooms had been fried in butter, but still they needed to be warmed.

We talked about the best Christmas evers, for all of us. Rebecca told me thank you for the Grade 7 gift of a clock radio. The boys remembered an x-box gift from Verlaine. “Oh she loved giving you guys presents.”  I still own the second hand cedar chest I received when I was 18.

Anyone else with a "best ever Xmas gift"?

Having the family all together was a good one for us.


Christmas Eve

Is the whole day today called Christmas Eve? Is there a Christmas Eve Day and then a Christmas Eve eve? There have been both for us for no one was out of bed by 9 am when Rebecca said, “Let’s do it. Let’s go shopping for those last minute items I like to give to the boys.” They both get a box load of groceries: drinks, crackers, cookies, candy, canned meat (yes, Spam), the exotic and the different – stuff that doesn’t come into the house usually.

Peppers, a grocery store in Cadboro Bay Village, was the first stop. Well, not really – the Pharmacy was the first stop. A red letter day for me. I had collected all unused opiates – the 30’s, the 10’s the 5’s, the fast acting, the slow acting, all of them into a white paper bag and delivered to the pharmacy. “A red letter day for me,” I said to the pharmacist, ”I couldn’t have a better gift. Five days, opiate free. I need them. And now I don’t. A big day for me.”

But back to Peppers. The employees were having a contest: the worst Christmas outfit. One of the cashiers at the front had on one of those embroidered Xmas sweaters that is also lit like a tree – miniature lights flashing on and off. There were other Christmas sweaters, some of which I thought were quite beautiful so it is a good thing I wasn’t the judge. Rebecca thought the most disturbing costume was an elf hat, the peaked point of which would flip one way and then another. “Disturbing,” she said. I was taken with the hat shaped like a turkey, but with a smaller Christmas hat decorating the ends of the drumsticks. There was a reindeer head. The costume I wanted to imitate was one where an employee had taken a Christmas garland and artfully draped it over her shoulders as though it were a shawl. That might be the contest to end all contests.

When I got tired of watching the employees in costume, I turned to looking at the shoppers, since Peppers is in an exclusive housing area. Rebecca remarked to a woman about her embroidered boiled wool vest, “Exquisite vest”. The woman looked a little embarrassed but her daughter spoke up, “My mother made it.”

“I would like one, but I know the number of hours it would take to make one would make it cost prohibitive to me. What you are wearing is an art piece.” The woman’s daughter agreed, and the woman just seemed to shy over the whole thing to say much.

I had to switch back and forth to the left and right of one woman after I spotted a piece of cut rock on her finger that stretched over two other fingers. Beautifully set and a magnificent shape. I hardly got to see any of the groceries on the shelves, I was so busy between employee costuming and customer outerwear.

The perfect bulk barn was next door, bulk everything, especially candy – the penny sweets had already been bagged and priced, so there were no twist ties or bulk bin numbers to fumble with. We had already tried to find Christmas candy corn ( red white and green as opposed to the Halloween colours). The employee at Save-On foods says they have been soldout for over a week. As well, at the bulk burn there were little wrapped chocolates, the fin foil in colors that looked like lady bugs with black legs hanging out and butterflies with gossamer wings, and silver and gold wrapped money.

I told Rebecca that the boys would get all of this good food anyway, so to wrap it up and have it under the tree is like getting a gift and grocery package two for one. The day was warm. “I haven’t lived here long enough to get over the surprise of green lawns and a mild temperature yet. I wonder if that day will come,” said Rebecca. I man was jogging down the street in a muscle shirt and shorts. A beautiful green hedge had been trimmed up and over a charming wooden arch. I stepped over a small garden at the side of a street. Pansies were blooming close to the ground. I hope Santa Claus can find this lovely spot tomorrow – he may pass over it for what else more does Victoria need.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas - Camps-Johnson Style

Merry Christmas, from us to you
I thought of Arta at 12:12 am, 2:10, 3:45, 3:59, 4:03, and 5:00 am ... the times David woke me to ask if it were too soon to see what Santa brought.

He politely smiled when he opened Le Petite Prince and put it down.

He said "oh, interesting" when he opened his National Geographic Cook Book, and his body straighted up tall and his eyes danced when he opened Super Mario Smash Bros video game.

Yes, Christmas is grande.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas Treat - Hot Chocolate

.... I have added the chocolate curls to the hot chocolate ...
What next?
David worked in the kitchen today making cake.

The first cake was eaten on the spot.

The other mix came out of the pan beautifully and will be iced tomorrow.

... a little extra won't hurt ...
Bonnie's idea is that it should have cherry pie filling between the layers, and be iced with whipping cream.

David has a different idea.

Why not have a butter cream icing, a nice chocolate flavoured one that will be spread between the two layers that he will split into four.
And now for the first taste!

In preparation for Bonnie's idea, there was some practise tonight, taking a chocolate bar and shaving curls off of it with a potato peeler. 

This was a good idea for Bonnie, but not one that David took too.

 He had enough melted chocolate on his fingers, just eating the few squares she had given him as a teaser.

 And so, not to waste either the whipping cream or the chocolate curls, Bonnie made a cup of hot chocolate for him.

You have already guess it.

I give it a score of 7/10.
 The whipping cream came out of the can and topped up the hot chocolate.

The curls of chocolate went on top of that.

This was a perfect way to end the night.

 The only thing that had gone wrong was that David didn't feel well and his temperature was rising.

What kind of holiday begins with someone being sick?

On the bonus side, Bonnie and I had a facetime visit for a long time.

And now for the first taste!
I got to see the ever changing lights of their tree.

 I got a tour around the house to see all of the decorations. 

We figured out how Xmas lights could be turned on outside, at least potentially.

I got to see David add some chocolate to the hot chocolate. 

We talked about electronics and how long it takes to install them.

David got a visit with Duncan.

We got to sing one carol, or was that 2. (We made a false start with "Joy to the World", so turned instead to "The Holly and the Ivy".)

One of us had Coke while the other had hot pepper jelly, cream cheese and crackers.

A good time was had by all.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Getting to AgeCare Seton

Kelvin’s move to AgeCare Seton involved Richard and Rebecca with a Saturday morning run to Costco: a buying trip, shopping, Rebecca’s worst fear.

But there was a fifty inch T.V. to buy, a ground mount stand to purchase and a telephone and answering machine to buy.

With all of that, the idea of putting a Phillip’s screwdriver in the cart just didn’t happen, so as soon as she got to Seton and could see that it was the weekend off for the tradesmen, she was on the road again. There is an argument for owning a phone that will give you directions to the nearest Home Depot, especially when you are in a new community.

What is there to tell. A tub of Kelvin’s with a lift to aid getting in the tub. The ceiling looks like soft clouds floating by. There is an armoire for his clothes, shelves for the proverbial equipment that goes along with a CPap machine and a self-cleaning razor.

... dining at Seton ...
Rebecca was the one who did the intake with Kelvin at Clifton Manor and she did it again at Seton. The intake this time was different. She had left Clifton with a Greensleeve that was packed. When she went there in the first place there was only the personal directive and the goals of care. You will remember that getting information was impossible – that is, getting your own information seems to be impossible. But the Clifton Manor people are not the first flaw. For when Kelvin went in, they didn’t know if he was a lock-down patient or if he was more able to get around on his own. There hadn’t been an assessment. That didn’t give Clifton Manor an advantage.

There are a number of dementia people at this facility as well, but it is not full of people in the halls calling out “Help me. Help me.” Hearing that is not calming.

Dinner is lovely at the new facility. The noise in the old room was deafening, so many people in the room and the ceilings were so high. No salt and pepper on the tables in case someone takes too much. That has all changed.

Now dinner has two seatings: 5 pm and 5:30 pm. If you are early for your seating, it is OK. You can sit and wait in a clean place. You can sit anywhere you want. There is a book at the front with a picture of all of the residents, so the questions, do you like a big serving or a small one are already answered for the caregivers.

The floors look nice and there are paintings all around the wall. There is a pillar in the centre so lines of sight are disrupted. Soft dinner music starts playing an hour before hand. As the second seating is happening, the first is being cleaned up. They have laminated visuals, do you want the egg salad sandwich or the deli sandwich. And now the residents can see an accurate picture; they don’t have to ask what the bread looks like.

There is a lot of yelling: Why did you decide to come to Canada? How do you spell your name? Where did you live? And a lot of nodding and smiling, because no one can hear the answers.

Everyone already knows who Grant and Boyce Johnson are. The workers already love Grant so Kelvin can ride in on his coat tails. Grant has lost a lot of memory but underneath is a good person, wanting to help. And finding ways to help. What is there not to love about a person like that. The best way to grow old.

Under Kelvin’s core is a lot of loss and anxiety but not so much memory loss. The other people on his floor are often 93 years old or 95. Kelvin feels like the young guy on the block.

The Shaw guy gave Rebecca his card, if we want anything else set up, like the Internet. But we can’t figure out what Kelvin is actually wanting. He is wanting to go to his grammar book and find some reference to it and then go find that book, somewhere on the internet. To get there, Kelvin would still have to have a university login. He wants cutting edge research on “elocutionary force”, but no, he needs a person sitting beside him full time, and then he would start giving me grammar lessons in between as he tried to do with Rebecca.

Yes, we could put in the internet and programme it for him, but I don’t think it would work.

Rebecca could see she had left carnage everywhere, bolts and screws, cardboard, packing materials. It was 1 at night and she was still programming Kelvin’s phone so he can phone Betty Sabey and as many of his kids as there were numbers for.

Rebecca went to Best Buy Mobile and said, this is an old guy, he has a flip phone and I don’t think he can learn the new ones. The guy said go to Kudo which might be underneath Telus. You could buy either said the guy, but I think the flip phone will be best.

Rebecca found a $35 land line phone, with no long distance on it. He is to use his cell when he wants to call long distance. And for now, he carries the phone everywhere with him during the day. That helps.

The church building is 1.2 kilometres away. Instead of shuttling across town to the old Bow Valley Ward, he will go there, to a very young ward, Auburn Bay Ward. A lot of babies crying but that is hard for people with hearing aids, since they can’t keep that noise off. The other alternative is just to shut the hearing aids off.

The new ward has been split, so the old driver won’t be able to pick them up yet, but eventually maybe Grant and Kelvin can go together. Right now Kelvin is good, getting to church with Access Calgary.

Les Steimeyer and Heber Jones picked up Kelvin’s electric chair from Richard, furniture from downtown and delivered it to Seton, which we are going to underline again is a l-o-n-g drive. How to thank them? There is no way. We are going to be left in their debt.

Rebecca let Kelvin help her put the TV stand together. She had the French instructions in front of her. He would call out put part "Y into part C". She had the picture in front of her, so that worked, even though it didn't work.

The question as to whether Kelvin is happy is answered yes by, there are salt and pepper shakes at the table. Yes. He is happy. The ambient noise in the dinner room is gone. The lady from next door at the other place, who used to barge into his room yelling is gone. In the new place,just keep your door shut if you don't want people wandering in saying, "Hello, it is time for dinner," when it is only 3 pm. The bottom line at Seton is ... yes, it is quiet.

And lovely.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We had pre-purchased tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday. The day has been circled on the family calendar for weeks, Duncan sometimes going to that blessed Friday and just pointing at it, as though all of us were participating in his anticipatory pleasure. We left without Alex, since he wasn’t home and by the time we passed over MacKenzie, Steve was asking Siri to phone Alex. Sure enough Alex’s voice was heard on the phone, “I came home in time to see you drive away.” We circled back for him and then proceeded to get Ben who lives well downtown. Steve was apologizing to the boys about being late, but we had 3 minutes to spare – which really means we had 15 minutes to spare since the trailers for upcoming movies take that long. Steve pressed snack money into the hands of all three 6 foot plus teenagers and out to the foyer they ran. Alex had asked for cheap treats at the theatre which made both Steve and I guffaw – the word cheap cannot be applied to movie concession stands in my mind.

beige trousers and top

double belt slung low on hips
cut away arms at the shoulders
criss-cross paneling on the bodice
fantastic hair-do -- hope it becomes stylish
I saw some costuming on the theatre patrons: a man in a long black flowing coat, and a woman dressed as the new protagonist – Rey. That was fun. As well, I sat by a man and his son, and as I settled in, he welcomed me to the event. Soon he was pressing his cell phone into my view, telling me that what he was about to show me was the best spoiler of all time. I read the one-liner – lucky for me that I knew so little of what was to go on, that I didn’t catch on to its significance until the movie was over.

On the way home we tried to think of the best one liners in the script. I liked Finn’s job description. But you will have to see the movie to know what that was. And I thought Rey’s occupation was equally fun. Not a lot of costume changes in the movie. But watching it in 3-D was wonderful. I was sure that I was hit a few times until I got used to ships coming in from behind me, over my left shoulder.

When I arrived in Victoria a couple of months ago, these tickets had already been bought and had names on them. In the course of time, some people had to drop out and that is how I got to one of the first showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By the time the new sequel comes out, I just might have my own costume ready to wear. Why not join those for whom a movie of this proportion is a cult event.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Arbutus Cove Walk

... my walking target ...
If I start from Rebecca’s house, it doesn’t matter which direction I take – every road is interesting.

The crescents and the circles have their charm, as does the children’s park that is close by.

Today Mary asked me if I walked to the ocean and I wondered why I haven’t been doing that.

I pointed myself to the east and just about all of the way, I was walking downhill. Thirty minutes to the ocean. The wind was gentle.
... look past the arbutus limb to the oean ... the Pacific ...

The climb back was uphill all of the way. I lingered at many of the iron gates that were closed – locking people into their estates. Gorgeous homes, well manicured lawns and everything so green and beautiful here.

All of the residents, able to take the same walk I took, down to the ocean.

What a way to have winter!


The Holiday Train in Salmon Arm

... an ordinary day in the life of a Salmon Armian ...
We made it to school for David and work for me, cross-country ski lessons, karate, and the Holiday Train.

David and I had a great view and danced as Jim Cuddy sang.

Too fun.

I saw Blue Rodeo as a teen.

Now he got a taste.

... reminding us of the old Thomas the Tank Engine days ...
I showed David how to get closer to the train.

Just wait for a small opening, squeeze in, wait for another, and soon you are up close enough to be by the cautionary rope.

The local radio announcer was doing the honours.

Donations to the local food bank would buy you some hot chocolate, a hot dog, some cookies.

We saw old friends, some who hadn't seen David since he was so small.

Merry Christmas to all from our spot at the holiday train.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Move

... tis the season for ... Chinese food ...
Rebecca is helping Kelvin to make the move to Seton AgeCare on Friday. They visited today for four hours. She asked him what he wanted her to bring for food rather than going out. She doesn't like driving on the Alberta icy roads and he doesn't like walking on them either.  So they dined in and enjoyed an evening with Chinese food -- a perfect antidote to too many sugar cookies and too much Christmas cake.


Mount Douglas Holiday Concert

... the jazz band in the foyer ...
“The concert starts at 7 pm. The Jazz Band has to be there at 6:30 pm.” Neither Steve nor I could figure out what the jazz band would be doing. Setting up chairs. It wasn’t until I was talking to Duncan at the foot of the stairs as he was shining his shoes that I caught on – the jazz band was to be performing in the foyer as people walked in to take their seats.

That put some heat on us to get there on time. Duncan had already checked out his clothes and he looked fantastic – bright yellow tie on a black shirt. As we were driving out of the driveway and down the street Steve said, "Got your music?  Remember, last time I had to go home and get it."

"Whoops," said Duncan as Steve made a u-turn to go back for it.  "At least the ride home to fetch it isn't as long this time," continued Duncan as he leapt out of the car to run into the house.

 Steve and I stood in the foyer to listen to the band. No one was more surprised than the two of us when Duncan got to his feet and did a solo during one of the songs.

“Why didn’t you tell us you had a solo? What kind of son are you to keep secrets like that?”

“Well, I didn’t really want anyone to know. Mr. Awai just said to me, Duncan, you take that solo, and there wasn’t much I could do but say, yes sir.  But I have been worrying about it for days now.”

Two hundred and fift-six performers in the evening: the first band, the second band, the first choir, the second choir, the third choir, the first strings group, the second strings group, the third band. You get the idea. And those who weren’t playing at the time were cheering the others who were. The evening was full of songs I love: Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, “Lo, how a rose ‘ere blooming, “Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by a string quartet, Mel Torme’s “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire".

I leaned over to Steve and said, “It is true what they tell us at the HD Live Opera events. There is nothing like a live performance in your local school or theatre.”

... Mr. Awai and the Grade X Band ...
I keep hoping and praying that Duncan will join the men’s choir next year.

I think the only way he will do it is if Mr. Awai says, “Duncan, I want to see you at men’s choir.

I studied the conductor, both out in the foyer and in the gym. Doug Awai wore a Santa hat and had a bright red and green Christmas tie on. The black of his suit jacket and his pants told me that they were separate pieces. The trousers were long, maybe about six inches longer than what might have been his normal leg length, so I am guessing all of those folds at the bottom of the trousers are a statement of style. His body was full of rhythm, his legs tapping, his shoulder rocking to the music, his head going forward and back, attached to his neck which also had a rhythm of its own. His hand would be tapping the piano, or he was a holding a stick and a bell. “A one, a two, a three, a four” and then in double time, a one, two three,  four and away they went.

By the end of the evening my own body was swaying and my foot tapping.

A wonderful concert.


PS  Steve told Duncan since it was his night, he could go anywhere he wanted afterward.  I thought Duncan would choose to do a treat run through the isles of Save-on-Foods as he does with his mother.  No.  He decided on a Diary Queen ice cream cake.  Life is sweet here.

The Christmas Train

From Moiya:

Take a look at the Christmas Train from Lethbridge. 

It is going across the big train bridge. 

This is almost the same view that Dan and Marina get from their living room and kitchen window. It will be here in Sicamous on Wednesday.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Acupuncture 101

Today when the needles were being removed from my body the Dr. told me that acupuncture doesn't work as well on bodies that have a lot of morphine in them.  The morphine deadens the sensation, he said, and that I will get more relief from pain when my body is back to normal, using all of its natural capacities and not  to be deadened as it is now.

I have no idea if this is true or not.  But given that he thinks the relief is less than ideal, I decided to do some shopping therapy by stopping in at the university book store which is on the bus loop in Victoria.  If the acupuncture wasn't ideal, spending money should be.  The shopping therapy didn't work either, for I didn't buy anything.

 ... enjoying the Xmas decorations in the UVic Bookstore ...
But beautiful Xmas ornaments were half price.  I touched them, took a few into my hands, hooked them over my fingers and let them swing until they stopped and then I put them down again.

There was a 4 inch high Eiffel tower,  sparkling with reflected light, some globes that held birds as though they were nesting, and some wooden silhouettes of Christmas trees -- all lovely, but we don't even have our tree up yet.

This is so unusual for me -- being a person who gets her decorations up on December 1st so that I can enjoy them for the 25 days before Xmas.  Now I will be enjoying the tree after Xmas.  I like mixing things up like that.


Retelling Stories by Drawing

Last Spring my mom and I decided to do some gardening. We were trying to flip over a wheel barrow, 
but my mom accidentally dropped it. 
It made a loud clang.
A bear was close by in the bushes eating some berries. 

The bear didn't know we were trying to do some gardening.
The "clang" scared the bear.

The bear scampered up a tree.
The breaking branches made some loud sounds.

We didn't know the bear was near by.
The sounds of breaking branches scared us.

So in the end, we were all scared.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Learning by Doing

Rebecca and I spent a lovely evening – a wonderful day, actually, but the morning had been filled with hard work. 

She has some articles to finish, a few ideas she wants to begin and some classes to teach.

All require preparation of one sort or another and I have been typing for her. My goal is to see if she can talk while I do 9 single spaced pages of typing. She thinks that my font is small or my margins too narrow when it feels like the pages aren’t going fast enough. But no, I quietly type, and let spell check and grammar check do their work when my fingers can’t keep up with her words.

By the end of the night we were both tired – wanting to press on, but neither of us could find energy to work at the speed we had been operating during the morning and afternoon hours. I opened one of her new art books and she opened another. We took out some paper and coloured pens and tried to re-create the images in the book. We chatted -- and let our pens work. I became more and more engaged in creative work that I don’t usually do. Art. I do go to museums and read art books, but I never pick up a pencil and try to imitate life with lines. Examples of bird’s ears and eyes, animal teeth, fur, fish scales – though it seems obvious I had never been able to tell which of the animals was a beaver until I saw how those two front teeth were drawn.

Part of the evening was that I didn’t have a pace that I had to keep, nor anyone making comments or even watching. I worked and reworked images through the evening hours, commenting to Rebecca how restful the time felt.

Duncan did come by and watching us, picked up a pen himself.

He didn’t sit down but kneeling by the table he quickly crafted a porpoise, Northwest Coast Style.

And then he returned to his electronic games. I was left seeing his image – deftly crafted with more skill than I had shown.

A beginner’s start for me … and Rebecca had purchased three books, so there is plenty of material for me to work from.

Wyona told me she has been watching u-tube videos on how to paint with water colours. She comments that there is so much on utube for a person to learn. I feel the same way about the lovely books – so many evenings ahead for me to enjoy.