Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Time for bed ...

This could be any day at the house next door.

Michael has been allowed to play some electronic games.

Alice is hanging over his shoulder, because it must be fun if Michael is doing it.

And Betty is just trying to figure out a way to get in closer.

Today I took an afternoon nap.

If I start my nap at 4:30 pm, I am not going to wake up until about 7 pm which is when that little household starts to close down.  I ran over there so that I didn't miss the last few minutes of fun.  Grandmother Joan was tending them, having a clean-up party and then she was letting them play hide and seek.

They have no new places to hide, but that doesn't matter to them.  Off they go for one last round of fun before going to bed.

Now how could life be better than that?


The Volleyball Season Begins

... a long shot of Gabe ...
Gabe Treleaven started high school this year.  

He goes to Central, which is a bit of a hike from his home.  

It takes him over an hour to get there on the bus.  

Gabe tried out for the volleyball team.  

He got on.  

Only 6 people tried out.  

They had to put out another call for players.

Today I got a note from Marcia.

She said:
You should've come to Gabe's volleyball game at Bowness. 
Darla and Don Robertson were there as Kirby's son is on the Bowness team.  
... the opposition have 20 + fans ...
Bowness High School is Art's alma matter. 
Twenty people sat on one side of the gym. 
I was alone on the other side. 
Next time we could use more supporters. 
It's only me on this side.
Marcia won't have to ask me twice to attend. 

I love going to high school games.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Visiting a Sikh Temple

Photo: Kerri Singh 
Every moment of the day has seemed precious to me.

I particularly enjoyed lunch (langar) with Kerri today.

I have been wanting to attend the Sikh Temple, ever since Pouria told me about his own visit to the one in north east Calgary.

Kerri told me that she would take me to the one in southwest Calgary someday, and that day occurred today.

She explained a few things to me in preparation for our visit.
Photo: Kerri Singh 
Both women and men have their hair covered in the temple. 

As well, there are no shoes or sock worn. She told me that we would sit upstairs for a while, listening to music and hearing some text.

I really did have a wonderful time. 

Most people sat cross-legged on the floor – all but the very old who sat on wooden benches around the perimeter of the room.

People entered, and at the offering box left what they wished to give and also knelt and bowed their heads to the floor.

Photo: Kerri Singh 
I was mostly watching the old people as they did this.

One of them bowed and then popped himself up as though he were a 20 year old.

On rethinking today’s experience, I should have gone to him and asked what is his secret to long life and good health.

And flexibility.

I identified more with the old man who made it to the floor, but only with a helper. And getting up was also a problem. He should have just come and sat on the side with the rest of us.

On the other hand, I give him that he needed to perform that ritual, even with the aches and the loss of balance that was his.

Photo: Kerri Singh 
The trio playing the instruments must have been doing a familiar melody to most of the people there. 

The woman next to me seemed to be humming along with him. To the left of me, I could feel her rocking and hear her voice.

Veer delivered a substantial ball of food to me as I sat listening to the music, more than a golf ball, but much less than a tennis ball. I later learned this was Karah Parshad (sweet flour and ghee-based food),

Kerri could take the recipe out of her head as she told me what was in it, ending with, "and Veer loves it".

Photo: Kerri Singh 
 I sat and ate, watching others to see what the method was.

Veer seemed quite happy downstairs when we went there and began to get our lunch.

Kerri thinks that the abundance of it might be signalling Diwali.

Today there were lots of sweets, some pekorahs and samosa and a veritable vegetarian feast along the buffet line.

There were 2 sizes of plates: medium and large. 

This is the perfect way for my food.
I like everything separated ... not touching.
Veer took the large one, so I did as well.

 The only place I faltered along the line is when the server asked me, “One chapatti or two?” Without breaking the rhythm of the work he was doing he gave me what it seemed I was asking for: two.

I had a paneer dish (that seemed like butter chicken), a vegetable dish, a garbanzo bean dish, some sweet cocoanut rice, and as Veer puts it, “liquidy yogurt with some cucumber in it today”. “

The spices in this food are going to make you very sleepy,” said Veer.

 He was right.

Delicious and I came right home and had a long nap.


PS  I ate with the headscarf on.  I am not used to eating in this fashion.  I found the scarf getting into my mouth before the food did and so I seemed to be jamming the food into a cloth barrier.  I am going to give this some practise before I go back next time.  And I will be going back.

Kerri and Me

It is not often that a photo op occurs in a parking lot. 

But there was Lynda Pearson, offering to take a shot of Kerri Singh and me, so now you see it:  how the two of us dressed for Aunt Sharon's funeral. 

Both of us were working hard at showing respect. 

Some colour, but not too much.

I think Sharon would have loved us.

She did the same thing for Nadine's funeral, though I think she did a little better than the two of us, even buying a new dress.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) - Part I

I didn't have to be very long into this morning's HD Opera from New York until I was thinking, "Yes, worth it, even for just this much. Not even 10 minutes and I am in opera heaven."

Markus Werba  (Papageno)
Photo: Richard Termine | Metropolitan Opera
There were a lot of children at the opera today, in our theatre.

I might have counted a row of ten of them in front of me, and then I sat by a little 9 year old who was coming for the first time.  I asked her what she knew about the opera and she said nothing.

I thought, good for her parents.  They got her there.  Now she can decide if she likes this or not.

The opera was complicated for me today.  I am not crazy about fantasy and if I see it, it is so well done in the movie.

The theatre depended on what seemed like mile-high puppets:  the snake that takes up the whole stage, the fanciful bird and the children riding on its back, the five dancing bears and the wonderful masks on the heads of the 3 servants of the Queen of the Night.

What made the opera complicated is that I had read its history --  a 200 year old opera -- a mash-up of opera, stage, performers with style, and people who needed to be reminded of the melody before signing it.

All of that stylized Masonic iconography.

What great visuals.

I think a good time was had by all who were at the opera.  I didn't see anyone leaving.

Also see "The Met Has the Voices.  But will it need more to survive?

The walk up to the cinema and the walk back from the C-train also made me thoughtful.  On the way there I saw a blanket and a sleeping bag tucked up against the sound barrier where the sidewalk and its flower beds join Crowchild trail.  "I guess whomever slept there last night is coming back to the same place tonight," I thought, at the same time as I saw some running shoes connected to feet coming out from the north end of the blankets.  "I wonder where he will get his coffee this morning," I wondered, thinking about all of the houses along the sidewalk where good breakfasts were being served. 

On the way back from the theatre the wind was blowing as hard as I have ever felt it blow.  A couple of times I had to put my whole body into it, just to stay standing.  This was just when I was approaching the traffic circle at Crowchild Place.  There Crowchild Bottle Depot is also there and empty pop bottle cans were loose and flying across the road.  I had to keep my feet still for it looked like a chance to play kick the can with a can ready to be kicked at every step.  Now those are cans that are going to be re-recycled, if someone has a bag and the energy to make some money.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Tag - I cheat a bit

Michael, Alice and Betty wanted to play tag on the front lawn in front of our houses.  I can't run that fast anymore.  In fact, I can't even jog. The good thing about playing with Betty is just so she is tagged every so often she will keep running back and forth between the boundaries we have set up.

Michael can out run me, out think me, and out jump me (since there is one ledge where he can leap down, and where I can only gingerly sit down and then let myself off).

Alice doesn't care, just so long as she doesn't have to be "it" all of the time.  And in the middle of our game she suddenly changed it to frozen tag.

I love it.  The rules are so fluid when we play tag.


Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)

Photo: Met Opera
Looks like the beginning of another Met Live Season.  Saturday's show is 3 hours, 45 minutes.

I couldn't find any reviews but did enjoy myself out on this site: The Magic Flute - Wikipedia.

Synopsis to The Magic Flute:

Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts Tony Award winner Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s masterpiece, Die Zauberflöte.

Golda Schultz makes her Met debut as Pamina with Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as the fairy tale prince Tamino, Markus Werba as the bird-catching Papageno, Christian Van Horn as Sprecher, and René Pape as Sarastro.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thanksgiving - Mary's and Catherine's version

Coaticook Ice Cream Factory

From Mary:

For the thanksgiving weekend, Leo and I went to a small town in what is called the "eastern townships" -- Coaticook.

They are famous for their ice cream factory.

... before the turkey bake-off ...
... neck being saved in the sink ...
Yes, we ate more than we should have and bought thermal bags so we could bring eight 2 litre buckets back to Cathy's.

We are crazy.

When Arta comes to Montreal, we can eat some of it.

We had to leave it behind in Catherine's freezer, it getting too soft to make it the last 2 hours in the car back to Ottawa.

Only 28 people at Cathy's thanksgiving dinner.

 She and Eric are great hosts.

 Nice to meet 3 different people/students working with Eric.

John Borrows was there too.

A nice mix for the evening.

Lots of kids.

Cathy's jello bar was a hit as usual.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Birthday Connections

Hannah Pilling and I share a birth date:  October 11. 

Half a century apart. Time span connected by loving family and loving the Lake.  

What did you do for your birthday, Hannah? Did anything make you laugh? Did anything surprise you?  Here are a few of the things that made me smile, laugh, or just have my eyes and mouth wide open in wonder.  
 ...an Octoberish day at one of my favourite places ... 

... the dream of going to Boston Pizza ...

two tickets to a clarinet performance
each ticket admits only one

Joaquim, David Doral, Bonnie Wyora

celebrating at the Drum Park

Monday, October 9, 2017


Our thanksgiving dinner was held Sunday evening.  Joan brought the meal to Miranda's house.  I looked at my plate when it was filled:  turkey, dressing, gravy, turnips, squash, cabbage salad (from a 200 year old recipe, great-grandmother Joan said).  There were cranberries, hallah bread (compliments of Amir).  I forgot the potatoes, but there was still room on my plate to tuck a spoonfull of them by the meat.  No room to make a well and fill it with gravy, though.

Then the thanks around the table. 

Richard took mine -- the gift of reading.  I had to switch and say that the joy of waking up every morning is my biggest pleasure.  Michael's gratefulness was centred around electronics.  Alice couldn't think of anything -- not in the category of food, friends at play school, cousins and family.  She just couldn't get from the general to the particular to make a statement.  Betty spent the meal nestled on her mother's chest.  This couldn't have been that comfortable for Miranda.

Still.   A good time was had by all.  I tried to gather all of the people who were there in my mind and hope that there will be many more events where we share this kind of happiness.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Thanksgiving Rainbow

Moiya sent these pictures to me but included no text.

What is there to say about this picture?

I think the rainbow is coming right out of the train tunnel
that is in the cove next to ours.

Moiya doesn't do photoshopping.
But this picture is just too good to be true.

This is version 2 of the picture above.
The shadows on the lawn are deeper.
For me the wonder is still there.
A full rainbow!
A pre-thanksgiving treat.

Sharon Jonsson - Funeral

Richard and I arrived at the church a little earlier than usual today.

We wanted to make sure that we saw as many as possible of the relatives as they arrived at the chapel for Sharon Jonsson’s funeral.

Aunt Virginia gave the family prayer.  The the mourners followed the casket into the chapel.

As I walked in, I was reminded again of my own father leaning over to me before a funeral started, and saying that the person whose life we were celebrating was so old, that he had outlived most of his own friends, and what we would be seeing was the mourners who were connected to his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren.

This was somewhat true of Sharon’s funeral. There were 15 people on the right side of the chapel, 10 on the left side of the chapel and the five middle pews were filled by Sharon’s relatives. I counted one row: eleven people, so there were about 55 of us who walked in behind the casket.

Richard had the only young children there. I heard their soft voices whispering to their mother during the opening prayer. Kerri leaned over to me when the Amens were said and whispered that the little sounds of their voices made a beautiful descant behind the prayer.

Anita gave a brief biography of her mother’s life, touching on her early life in Barnwell, her marriage, her divorce after which she committed herself to raising a “small” family and of surrounding herself with all of the joys that an intellectual life can bring. Anita reminded me again of Sharon’s commitment to her country – that when Alberta was celebrating a jubilee, that the government issued a travel passport and encouraged its citizens to see as many places in Alberta as they could. Sharon used that summer to visit as many of them as she could and had some side adventures that were remarkable, the highlight happening one night when she pulled over to the side of the road to sleep. When she woke she saw the eyes and nose of an elk or a caribou plastered against her car window, its eyes only inches away from hers, looking into her car, as she was looking out at it. Sharon travelled Alberta that year, for Alberta was part of the Grade IV curriculum. Crossing the Peace River in northern Alberta was an event that lingered with Sharon for the rest of her life.

Claire Neville spoke at Sharon’s funeral. Claire was a fellow teacher at the Chinook Park School. Claire and Sharon had a devoted friendship for over 50 years, sharing joys and heartaches as only close friends can do. Claire said that in one of her own moments of profound sorrow, Sharon shared with her a scripture that struck a chord in Claire’s heart. Romans 8:31. If God be for us, who can be against us? Claire said that she and Sharon would be Forever Best Friends.

It is not often that we hear about the professional life of a woman at a funeral. Claire had a good memory for Sharon’s teaching technique. Claire said that in a school assembly Sharon’s class did a themed presentation on Principles of Good Health, complete with costumes that Sharon had made.  Claire smiled at the audience and said, "Sharon never lost a chance to teach a good lesson."

She also reminded us that Sharon was on the forefront of an initiative to have in-school libraries, and that in fact, she had gone back to school and finished off her degree in School Library Science. Sharon knew the books in the libraries, the popular children’s authors, and Sharon had a belief that bibliotherapy was a good way to solve individual discipline problems in the classroom.  She felt as though there was a book for everyone.

Andria Fisk spoke at the funeral, reminiscing about the times she spent with her grandmother in school libraries, or using the school stage to practise her dancing. And because she was a dancer and needed costumes, she said that her grandmother was the one who made the tutu’s, sewed sequins on costumes or created giant-sized Big Bird style costumes.

When I was viewing Sharon’s body, I noticed a small lap quilt placed under her hands. Sharon’s hands were black and blue, there was no muscle left in them and the skin was draping over the bones in her hands. Richard reminded me that the look of her aging body was not new. We had seen that for many months at Seton Place. To use the phrase of one of the speakers, Sharon had outlived her body. 

I asked Virginia about the lap quilt that Sharon’s hands had been resting on, if Sharon had been a quilter, because I have no memories of her at a sewing machine. Virginia said not to her knowledge, but she went up to take another look to tell me where the quilt had come from. When Virginia came back she said that she recognized some of the pieces as ones that belonged to Nadine. I hadn’t ever known Sharon as a sewer, but of course, anytime there is a dancer in the family, there is a need for lots of costumes, so of course, Sharon sewed.

Annika Fisk is the one who reminded us that Sharon’s name was Grandma Rose. Sharon liked to watch movies with Annika and Sharon had her own collection of favourites, three of which they watched over and over, ten times each at the very least.

 Larita Barfuss knew of the rose connection to Sharon, and had brought a beautiful heart-shaped wreath of white, pink and red roses filled in with baby’s breath.

Joshua Jonsson told us that in some ways he is from a family of dreamers. This month he made his final visit to see his grandmother. He told of holding her hand and of pouring out his soul to her. And she to him, Sharon wondering if the reason why people didn’t visit her much is because she was no longer funny. Joshua couldn’t think of anything much funnier that she could have said. He said that Sharon gave him the first blanket he was wrapped in as a baby, and when the top of it had worn away and what was now showing was the batting, now matted and having the same rough texture as dryer lint, she gave him his second blanket. Joshua said that in Scouts he wanted to earn his collector’s badge, so he collected coins, thinking this would be a fast way to complete that badge. He didn’t know then that Sharon would pick up on his collection and continue to collect, long after he had lost interest in the project. She also used to bribe him to do things with the promise of the prize of another comic as his reward. He ended up with a large comic collection. He said that she taught him what it was to know a hard-working, practical grandparent.

There is much more to tell. I was sitting right behind Aunt Molly. I loved watching her head, for she would shake it up and down, assenting to the truth of some of the stories that were told about their shared childhood lives. With Aunt Molly was Colleen, Corrine, and Lynda and David Pearson.

... the bruises from Grant's fall ...
 Uncle Grant was sitting with Bruce and Ramona Easthope.

On the icy streets of Calgary’s first snow, Grant took a tumble last week, thus the bruising on the left side of his face.

He has taken a number of tumblers like this one in the last few years.

He just seems to get up and walk away.

While waiting for the family prayer before the funeral service, I sat by Valerie, Darla Mae, Aunt Virginia and Allie Barfuss.

Allie is LaRita’s grade XI daughter who is no stranger to large family gatherings.

I think I enjoyed her the most when the family was preparing to leave and go to the Barnwell cemetery for the interment.

There was many plates of desserts on the table and on each was a different assortment of sweets.

Allie knew to take a snack pack of those treats with her.

Now there is a girl who has been to a lot of funerals. She was focusing on the ginger snap cookies, the kind that come in bulk from Costco. I was tempted to help her find them all, but she was very good at it by herself.

Valerie is making a small business out of her skills in throwing pots.

Darla Mae is looking forward to building a new house – one that will have lots of room for her four children, the oldest of whom is 16. Time is flying there.

Sharon’s former bishop spoke, Joe Lootens. He reminded us all of the parable of the widow’s mite, quoting it extensively, something I always love to hear – the beautiful language of the King James Version of the Bible. He said that the first time he met Sharon she was paying her tithes and offerings and that though she did not have much as we know it, she gave her all and she was was devoted to her Saviour.

Sharon’s home teacher, Stephen McCabe, spoke. He said that Sharon had taught him how to do genealogy. When she knew she had to move and was looking for a place to store her own genealogy, he promised her that she could leave it with him. Little did he know the extent of it, he said, for all of the genealogy he had done with her could be contained on a computer disk. He was a bit surprised to find that she had one dozen apple crates full of genealogy papers. True to his promise, he is storing them.

The musical number was one I haven’t heard for a long time: “In the Garden”.

I am going to reprint the lyrics. If you find yourself humming the melody as you read the lyrics, then you will be one of the old timers who can still remember this piece:
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses. 
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known. 
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing. 
I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling. 
Well, that song comes out of the far distant past, one we heard often in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.  For a couple of utube versions go to a reasonable a capella version or try listening to Elvis sing the song if it is not familiar to you.

In the past we heard this song a lot, not just at every funeral.

Kelve had to work at the Coop so that he couldn't go to the funeral, but he came over to our house in the evening and was reminiscing about Sharon. “Remember, every Christmas, she would give us a puzzle. No one else in the house was much interested in putting it together, but I was. Soon I felt proprietary rights over that gift and was miffed if anyone came to try to get in on the fun.”

There is much more to tell.

Of the older people who were there, I would mention Joanne and Ches Pierson, Jerry and Sheila Palmer, Helen (Gaye) Pitcher, and Norma Leavitt.

Cammy and Flip Phillips were there, as well as Preston and Maurine Johnson.

I watched the pall bearers carry the casket to the hearse. Richard and Doral Johnson, Richard McLung, Brian Phillips, Jeff Barfuss, I do not remember them all. I could see some white shirts and ties, and some men in dark suits as they walked Sharon down the sidewalk.  They lifted the casket from the wheels it was on, and solemnly walked it to the waiting hearse.

That ritual is a meaningful gesture to me.  She was surrounded by those who had loved her.


Friday, October 6, 2017

The Fall Foliage Excursion

... leaves of red vine cascading down a hill
at Annis Bay  .
Going on a few cruises put a new twist on the way I see the world.  At every port there are excursions that people take.  Some are arranged by the cruise vessel.  Other people get in contact with local tourist companies.  Greg told me that there is an excursion to Banff from some ships that land in Vancouver.

I was thinking about stops that such an excursion would take.  And I was realizing that my trip back from the lake this year was surely a time to look at the fall foliage -- the cedar trees now burnished with red, the autumn yellow of the deciduous trees, the ivory fluff still hanging at the tops of the fireweed -- every mile was a joy.

Greg is the one who said that the three of us were on the fall foliage excursion.

Wyona was busy taking pictures that she might like to paint.

There are certain views that Greg always thinks are magnificent. Perhaps next time we will make those places a stop.  Right now we drive on by.

At the foot of the peak of Mount Rundle, the lights of Banff were twinkling in the distance.  "That view has a fairytale quality," Wyona said.

Just as dusk was fading into night  and driving through the rolling foothills, already passed Old Woman Buffalo Jump I saw a grey coyote walking along the side of the road.

I thought about excursions and how easy it is to take them.


Norma - Coming to a Theatre Near You

Jamie Barton, kneeling, and Angela Meade, as the title character, 
in Bellini’s “Norma” at the Metropolitan Opera. 
Credit Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
What makes the opera so much fun for me now, is all of the work I do getting ready to go to it.

 Now it is not all that much work.

 I do read the reviews and in the case of Norma, one of the reviews involves listening to some quick utube renditions of the tunes I will be hearing.

I have been known to take a few notes and try to learn the names of the protagonists.

All of this makes me pretty happy when I get there.  Such a joy to watch the New York Metropolitan Opera, brought to the comfort of a theatre that is only an LRT ride away!

If you plan on going to the opera, here are some reviews. 

I am going to have to catch it on the Encore for I have another appointment on Saturday.

Hear what makes Norma the Everest of Opera

Star Singers Lift a muddled 'Norma' at the Metropolitan Opera

Hose and Tent Clean up

Running from one end of the ground sheet
 to the other is a sure way to add steps
to the 10,000 that I must do every day.
Do not leave your mother with the job of folding up the tents at the end of the summer.

I successfully folded two of the tents into their bags, though the poles from them ended up in one bag.

Someone will have to sort that out later.

Probably they will be grumbling but by that time no one will remember who put the tents away the year before.

The bigger problem was folding up a humungous ground sheet.  I finally got two long ends together and then pinned into the frame of the swing.  Then I could deal with the other two ends.

This was much more difficult than folding a queen sized sheet or a banquet-sized table cloth.

Moiya suggested that I post a list of jobs so that when people ask at the end of the summer, "What can I do to help?",  that I will have some choices for them.

One of the alternate jobs would be to run the water out of the hoses.

Glen told me just do it by gravity, so I have one hose that I drag right up to the top of the raspberry bushes, and the hose extends down the hill, past the house and continues down the path to the stream.  This hose is so long I can water something anywhere on the property.

Moiya went down the end of the hose to look and see if all of the water was out.  She told me that my method wasn't working, because no water was coming out.  That made me laugh for to me it meant that the plan had worked and the hose was now empty.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Who taught you to read ...

I wanted to say one more thing about my late sister-in-law, Sharon Jonsson.

She taught either Grade I or Grade II for most of her professional life.

If she taught for 30 years, that would mean she had  approximately 30 years x 25 children who learned to read under her tutelage.

Where will your reading take you?
I have been watching little grade I children lately: Kalina Oldham, Erza Bates, Michael Johnson.

They come home tired from their days at school.

Kindergarden used to be a lot of fun.

Now the days are not so much fun -- learning to put those vowels and consonants together.

Sitting still for longer periods of time.

The hard work and then the joy of finding that words can make a sentence.

And that the sentence can have many meanings?

All of that Sharon orchestrated for many years.

I once whispered in her ear what an accomplishment I thought that was.

I believe she understood what I was talking about.


The Dinner Party

Tomato and Corn Salad - Mexican Style
This is the story of a Saturday night dinner party.

The evening began a couple of days before, when Glen found a joint of ham on sale for a very good price.

His mouth watered at the thought of the ham bone in split pea soup.

Garden Salad
He decided that a dinner party was in order.  Others could eat the meat.  There would still be a ham bone left for what he loved the most:  split pea soup.

His invitation for dinner was extended across the property.

Wyona asked if she couldn't cook the ham at her house, since it was so cold there.

They had been warming up the house for a couple of days.

Entre Dish -- there never was such a plate!
I could hardly cover the design with food.
It had taken them that much time to find a way to close all of the windows, opened for air in the hot summer and now needing to be closed, since it does get chillly at night.

She wondered if she couldn't host the dinner at her house, since her last visitors had left her with goat cheese and other appetizers that were needing to be eaten.

A double bonus for her:  a heated house and food that wouldn't go to waste.

Between the Woods, the Bates and the Pillings, the rest of the meal was fleshed out.

 individual Coyote Dishes for side salads
Janet made a summer squash soup that had that je ne sais quoi taste -- it should have been jalapeños, she said, but she had to substitute another hot sauce, which was really working in that soup.

The toppings for the soup abound: sour cream, pistachios and I cannot remember what else, but enough to make the soup a whole meal.

Glen said he was reminded of a book he had been reading.

The aristocrats in another century were having a 13 course meal.
... candles burning in the night ...

When the soup was served the master and his guests had only a teaspoon full and then the rest was sent back to the kitchen so that people could pace themselves for all of the courses.

All this while others around them starved.

The rest of the soup in our kitchen was saved for another meal and another time.

When the ham is carved and the pototoes are out of the oven, there is no question as to which course I go to next: the hot one.

I like the French way of having the salad course after the entree.

In the case of the carving of the ham, the event brought about some discussion.

... the table is set when I arrive ...
In the extended Pilling house, we were told, Graham is learning how to do the carving.

The ritual of carving meat is almost a lost art.

On Saturday night, I noticed Glen went back to his own house and returned with a handful of carving tools -- a fork and a super sharp knife.

I was reminded that at my own home, I have a lovely carving fork with a bone handle.

I should make sure that my carving fork gets used again.

Moiya said she hates it when the potatoes about to be served are called funeral potatoes.

I have seen different names for those potatoes in recipe books -- Grannies Super Deluxe Potatoes or Cheesy Hash Browns.

... fresh garden salsa with a bite from the Woods ...
The recipe calls for cheese and sour cream and maybe mushroom soup and hash browns.

There are enough calories in a spoon full to count for a whole day's energy input.

I like to think of the dish as a way of serving comfort food at a funeral.

But Moiya is right -- the name funeral potatoes is a bit bleak.

We talked for a long time over dinner.

We began to eat at 6:30 pm and at 10:30 pm we were still surrounding the table.

... appetizer boats ...
I had just read an article about conversation between people, which said there is 300th of a millisecond between when one person stops talking and the next person begins.

I think this might have been true of the conversation at this dinner table.

Wyona and Greg had been to the Brew Pub recently.

I had suggested to her that she would have a better time having a dinner in the comfort of her own home.

She said that the Brew Pub had been so noisey, that it was about impossible to have a conversation.

a salad on a bed of seasoned brown rice
pistachios, carrots, baby tomatoes, pears top the dish
This was absolutely not true of our night together.

We had no waiter hoping to get out out so that there could be another sitting at our table.

We could hear each other's conversation.
... carving the ham ...

We could pace ourselves, resting between courses.

And the size of the tip would have broken the bank, given the extravagance of the bounteous fall harvest we enjoyed, much of it from our own gardens or trees.

Wyona found a recipe for a cocoanut tart early in the summer.

Saturday was her first chance to bring her ideas about this tart to fruition.

Some topped the tart with whipping cream.

Others used it as a chance to have a side of D Dutchmans' Peaches and Cream ice cream.

Glen tasted Moiya's Zucchini Cake and said it was the best brownie he had ever tasted.

He was right to identify the dense chocolate bar as the best anything he had ever tasted.

a dining room with a view
Well, that is about it for an evening well lived.

Who knew there could be so much happiness that began with the need to cook a joint of ham?


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fifty trips around the sun

It was Doral's birthday on Sunday. I asked him if he received any gifts that he really wanted?

Any birthday wishes that made him laugh?

If there was  anything happen between 1967 and now that made him joyful? 

He answered:
It was a boardgame birthday, but we gave strict instructions of no gifts; we already have plenty of games and things and don't need more. 
We played games from 11 am to 6 pm with some local friends and Rob and Pam traveled to St Albert to join us.

We did get some lovely cards from some of the children attendees. One was a homemade card and showed me playing Sushi Go with one of our friend's young daughter. 
So cute that she would put that on the card.

As Meighan would say, "I love my life!" 
Appreciate the birthday wishes. 
50 trips around the sun and counting.


Apple, apples, apples

Two of these things are not like the other.
On the right is a yellow gourd, really a giant pumpkin
that didn't make it sizewise.

The top left green gourd is also a pumpkin that didn't
get enough sun.  Disappointing that the pumpkins are no
larger than the windfall apples!
So there are many apple trees on the property. One tree is on Lot 4. A set of transparent apple trees are just about the Little Canadian Stream.  And more transparent apple trees are at the top of Pillings Road.  David Camps-Johnson planted an apple tree on the curve of the road down to the beach when he first moved here. This year that tree bore 5 apples.

 Glen planted some trees between the road and the railroad track. I went to look at those apples a couple of days ago. One bough had 10 apples right next to each other other, as though they had been bound together with florists wire, ready for some decorative purpose.  I checked on the apples again today.  The bear had taken bites out of a few of them, and also left a large pile of scat which was also impossible for me not to investigate.  Suffice to say, the bear doesn't digest all of the material perfectly.

There is a tree of Delicious apples to the left of the Bates home.  If you really want to taste the best apples in the world (or at least my world), see if there is a windfall apple at the trunk of the tree on the west side of their house.  Whomever planted that tree no longer remembers the name of the apple.  All of us know that the best apples on the property come from that tree.  On the first bite I can hear a crunch and then the juice of the apple drips down my hand to my forearm.

The Canadian musician Healey Willan called apples "God's own bottles".  He was right.

Last week-end was the Apple Festival in Salmon arm.  Gala apples were $.50 or a brown bag that you could fill yourself for $3.00.  Askews served long johns and glazed donuts, coffee, apple juice from Hannahs and Hannahs, and samples of all of the brands of apples.

Dave Wood picked some of the apple trees that grow on the Shields property.  It took him two days, the second day a bit easier as Glen lent him a backpack-like contraption that a person can wear and then the apples just slip into a bucket.

The back of Dave's pick-up is now full of apples.

Apples, apples, apples.


Pear Cheesecake

 ... 1/2 a cheesecake left and served on a Halloween Cat dish ...
Wyona called me tonight to say that if I would walk down to her house, there was a piece of pear cheesecake waiting for me. She also invited David Wood, Moiya, Glen and Janet to the feast.

What we were mostly curious about is how someone would have a recipe for pear cheesecake.  She went to her cupboard to bring out two old cookbooks that she had received as wedding gifts, one from Aunt Erva and one from Aunt Mary. That would make the cookbooks over fifty years old.

The Better Homes and Garden Cookbook had the old familiar red plaid checkered front.  The McCalls Cookbook showed an equal amount of wear and tear, the cover only hanging on by a thread and some of the pages falling out of the book.  Someone suggested to Wyona that she do some repair work with reinforcements on the hole-punched pages, but Moiya pointed out that  doing that would loose some of the recipe amounts or instructions.
note the layers of pear in the cheesecake
 ... imagine the taste of the whipping cream on top ....

The pears  in the cheesecake weren't some ordinary pears, but ones selected from the pear tree outside of Wyona's house. She carefully peeled them, sliced them and then layered them first on the bottom shortcake crust and then again on top of a layer of cheesecake.

I don't know why I am telling all of this except to say that the taste of the cheesecake was incredible.  I thought perhaps she had soaked the pears in a liqueur or placed a spice-rub on them.  But no!  Just the taste of sun-kissed pears surrounded by cream cheese.

It goes without saying that she had red candles in crystal holders reflecting on a piece of mirror and the mirror ball going.

Another perfect day at the Shuswap.


Sharon Rose Jonsson: July 20, 1934 - September 30, 2017

... Sharon Jonsson ...
Since I heard that Sharon died, I have been thinking about her life, or at least thinking about the places where her life intersected with mine.

Sharon was a genealogist at heart and a person who spent many volunteer hours working in the genealogy library, helping people to sort out the pattern of their own progenitors.

She did that for her own family as well.

And she did that for my family of origin -- helping me carefully trace births, death and marriages.  In fact, when I took on a project of my own, to get American citizenship for my children, I already had many of the documents I would need, because I had heeded Sharon's advice many years before.

I still use one of the by-products of Sharon's intense love of family relationships.  That is, one Christmas she produced a Family Registry.  In it were the names of her siblings, and of their children and their grandchildren.  But there was more to the document than just names.  She had their addresses, their phone numbers and their emails.  I like those boxes.  Lots of room for my edits.  Lots of clean white space around names and addresses.

On the first page she had written "let's keep in touch".

I hole punched my copy and put it in my three-ringed binder that is also my telephone directory.  I go to that document often, and update phone numbers or emails as necessary, for Sharon gave me a good start at "keeping in touch".

Sharon's middle name was Rose.

I knew that because I would hear her say something about her middle name whenever I was with her and she would look at a piece of china that had a rose on it.  In retrospect, I should have bought her a plate or a cup and saucer whenever I saw one with a rose on it, for I thought of her whenever I saw one.  Not that she couldn't have purchased whole sets of china with roses on them.

She may have had a better way.  I think some of her grandchildren called her Grandma Rose.  Why not.  A lovely middle name for a kind and generous hearted woman.

Her funeral will be held Saturday, October 7 in the Tipton Road Chapel (5927 Tipton Rd NW, Calgary), viewing at 10 am and service at 11 am.


See her obituary