Monday, January 30, 2017

Chinese New Year

We celebrated Chinese New Year on Saturday night.

The we would be the Johnsons next door and me, which makes six – a very nice sized party.

And we had what we have decided is the right mix: one adult per child.

We had egg rolls which the children investigated. One liked the wrapping, one liked the filling and Alice is an adventurous eater, so there is rarely anything left on her plate. The hit of the meal was the ribs – not the meat but the bones, all dripping with sauce. Instead of red envelopes full of money we had gold chocolate coins. Not the right symbol, but the hope and good wishes of continued wealth was there.

We ate on Chinese dishes – the blue ones with the rice pattern, so called because rice is set in the dishes and then burned off during firing, leaving small patterned indents.

That rice pattern set of dishes is so old that Richard can remember its genesis.

I had run a paper route for a month to get enough money to buy dishes to serve Chinese food on. I found a pattern which others might have thought was garish. I thought it was beautiful: red chrysanthemums outlined in gold paint on a black background with lots of other colours in a bougquet accenting the beauty of the main flower. I spent a lot of time picking that pattern out. In a couple of weeks I read in the Calgary Herald that some dishes had been imported from China which were only for display use. They contained lead poisoning. Of course there was a picture of my beloved set of dishes there. Back to Chinatown I went to return them in the best interests of my family’s health, coming home with this set: utilitarian, and now well used, though lacking that abundant splash of colour I loved.

Gōnghè xīnnián or as we say in English, Happy Chinese New Year.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Climbing the Walls

From Hebe:

Playing Cribbage with Grandma?

My caribou antler cribbage board!
I just got off the phone with Michael and Arta.  

They are doing reading time, but Michael reports that they get to play cribbage when they are done!   

Ah, sweet cribbage!   One of the important games of growing up. 

The mother bear with her baby
I learned to count first, standing by the tracks at the lake watching the trains go by, trying to determine which was the longest train of the day.  

But learning to add?   That was cribbage:  Fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair is six...

The two sled dogs barking at the bears
I told Michael I would send him a picture of my cribbage board, which i think is the best cribbage board ever!   

bought it at the wonderful museum/art store in Iqaluit in Nunavut. It was made by a man named Patrick Aula (here is a link to another piece he did!) 

So, Michael, here are a bunch of pictures!  This cribbage board is made of a caribou antler.  On top of it are a mother and baby polar bear, and two sled dogs.  The four animals are all carved from stone!
If you closely at the dogs, you will see one of them has a very stumpy tail. That is because I dropped one of them, and her tail broke off!   Ouch!   
You can see that Kiwi is not much of a guard dog!

Sled dogs have always been important in the North.  They can tell when bears are near, and they bark, which both gives an alert, and can also scare the bears off!   That is what you see here on the board:  the polar bear, and the dogs barking to tell them to back off.  :-)

The pins are inside the horn. 

There is a carved 'stopper' that holds them inside the antler.  

You can see this if you turn the antler to the side.  

When you pull out the pin, the four pegs (also carved out of bone) slide out.


You can take the bears and dogs off the board when you are playing.  

Or you can leave them on top!


Friday, January 27, 2017


 Image: Blumenthal Performing Arts
I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the musicals that get filmed and then broadcast in theatres.

NEWSIES is coming on February 19th and/or 23th.

Just saying so Rebecca can clear her calendar and find the right date for Victoria.

She and Duncan have probably seen more musicals together than an other mother-son duo I know. I was going to get the sound track and listen to it so that I would know the songs before hand. I will be in central B.C. much to my dismay. I have looked to find a theatre close by Salmon Arm, but the film will not be carried by any city in the interior.

Look out for this and enjoy a good musical if it is in your city.

Here are the utube clips that I have watched:

NEWSIES -  (Broadway) - Medley [LIVE @ The 2012 Tony Awards]

NEWSIES from the Thanksgiving Parade


Staying Flexible

I read articles on how to maximize happiness when getting old. One of the factors seems to be the power to remain flexible. I think about that often – wondering how I can practise that technique. When I go shopping with my sisters I see that they have a different pattern than I do. Wyona, especially, looks at every item on every shelf, which is really good for the merchant. This is excellent for me in terms of practising flexibility. My usual shopping pattern is to keep my nose right in my To Do list, checking each item off as it goes in the cart and look neither left nor right.

So yesterday we popped into the Planet Organic Market, only to browse. The shelves were lined with golden beets, kohlrabi, lacinato kale and the regular vegetables were there as well, in perfect formation. Wyona was doing price-checking. I was transported to a spot quite close to vegetable heaven, thinking of recipes I could use with each item I touched.

We even walked into the Health and Beauty section: tincture of horse tail, oil of cat’s claw. I am not making this up, nor lifting it from the brew that the 3 witches are stirring together at the beginning of MacBeth. There were organic soaps, made in Alberta. Wyona was picking out incense, slipping each piece into a long transparent bag. Beside the incense were necklaces, pieces of glass beads tied by the same method that Rebecca ties her clay necklaces. One glass bead, $30 and well worth the price to me, once I saw Mary doing glass blowing.

I thought Wyona was going to buy the Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp, for we looked at it a long time. I can’t suspend my belief about the real world enough that I can imagine a magical and invisible protective bubble around the lamp protecting me. I am flexible, but not flexible enough, I think. I do give the Himalayan Salt Lamp full marks on beauty.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Ten Hour Outing

Shish Tawouk or Beef Kabab
I have a part-time job that requires me to have police clearance to work with a certain population. I went to the police station to get the form, but the clerk there filled it out electronically by asking me a few questions and having me respond with the appropriate answers. When it came time to pay, I pulled out $40, hoping to get back a ten. Instead she told me that they are not equipped to take cash and that I would have to use a credit card.

I am pretty sure the day is coming when cash will be obsolete. Until then, I am going to try to use up all of the cash I have.

Wyona and I then went to the Jerusalem Shawarma at the Royal Oak Park. We often go to that mall and eat at Costa Vida, so this was a slight change. Pouria told me that the Jerusalem Shwarma on 16th Avenue is amazing, and I have to say the same thing for the place where we ate. He had warned me not to go right at the lunch hour, but to choose a time that is more leisurely. He was right. In fact it was so crowded and no table was available, so we turned around to walk out. Two customers stopped us and said, “Don’t leave. The food is really amazing. We are just going. Take our table.”

So that was the start of an outing where we took 10 hours looking at the amazing products in several stores.  We would have kept going had the shops not closed at 8:30.

But back to the Shwarma store. There are 12 items on the electronic menu above the grill. I am going to keep going back until I have tried all of them. The Chicken Shawarma Plate is the first one down. Eleven more items to try!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Waterdog

The children and I were singing / saying nursery rhymes after supper last night. Alice was holding a nursery rhyme book that was just the right size – not too heavy, and filled with charming illustrations. She was flipping the pages trying to find Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and I was trying to say or sing at least the first two lines of every page she flipped before I could see the illustration of the next page.

My words were only a blur she was turning the pages so fast.

 She paused for a moment at “Polly put the kettle on” and Richard joined in with me, singing the second verse, Sukey take it off again. When I got to the line “they’ve all gone away,” I started to explain why guests might go away and why a kettle must be taken off of the heat. I had a flashback to my grandmother telling me a story about her grandmother’s tea kettle.
My grandmother’s grandmother had invited friends over to have tea. All had remarked on the delicious flavour of the afternoon’s drink. It was only after they had gone that she found a waterdog had slipped into the kettle.
Waterdogs change into tiger salamanders
I have carried that story in my head for many years.

Today I googled water dog, and it is a North American salamander (a smaller relative of the mudpuppy), typically living in flowing water. 

That is what must have slipped into the kettle along with the water.

This story is true because my grandmother told me this story about her grandmother.


Grandmother Arta

Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March

People gather for the Women's March in Washington. 
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Tonia and Charise went to the Women’s March on Washington that was supported in Calgary.

Tonia assured Charise that there would only be a handful of women there – maybe forty. Charise waivered about taking her indigenous drum with her. She finally decided to leave it at home.

Four thousand women turned out. One of the speakers was the woman who taught Charise how to make her drum. When she saw Charise she asked about her drum and told her to always bring it with her to marches.

Image from
I spent the day watching the newsfeeds about the marches around the world.

My favourite sign was the one that said, “I have carried this sign for 60 years.”

I didn’t have a pussyhat to wear while I was watching from the comfort of my home. Naomi Brooks said she will knit one for me.

I shall wear it when I shovel snow.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bridge to Terabithia

Gabe Treleaven is in Bridge to Terabithia at Storybook Theatre. 

The theatre is in Beddington Heights, so it is not too far away. 

The show runs Feb 3-18 and there are 25 shows. Tuesday-Saturday at 7pm then Sat and Sunday at 2pm.

Bridge to Terabithia is a work of children's literature about two lonely children who create a magical forest kingdom. It was written by Katherine Paterson and was published in 1977 by Thomas Crowell. In 1978, it won the Newbery Medal. Paterson drew inspiration for the novel from a real event that occurred in August 1974 when a friend of her son was struck by lightning.


Eggs and Nests

Each time Wyona and I go to Costco lately, she has been looking for the Easter candy to come out. 

Finally the Easter candy has arrived.  Or at least two kinds:  Speck-tacular Eggs by M&M and another brand of egg, pastel colours and smaller, the brand name of which I do not remember. 

Question: How can you tell if the nest is fake?
Answer from Michael: because there are sparkles in it.

The fact that the snow on it didn't melt was of no consequence.

Neither was the fact that 1/2 of the eggs
letters on them of any consequence.

“One of these brands tastes better than the other. But I can’t remember which,” she said as she looked them.

“I’ll take one package and you take the other,” I said, “though that will hardly make it possible for us to tell which is the best.”

“We will split them,” she said.

 And split them she did. Right at the Food Court, sitting down and opening up the first bag and then juggling back and forth until there was an equal number in both bags. The couple next to us were staring. Just blatantly staring. She looked over at them and said, “We are splitting these two bags.”

“Oh,” said the man. “We thought you were opening them for lunch and we were wondering how that was going to go down.”

At my house the eggs got nested and we ate them for dessert tonight, after an elaborate story from Richard about how he had found the nest in a tree but couldn’t tell if they were turkey, or chicken or quail or chickadee eggs. Miranda and Richard also demonstrated the sign language for chicken and duck: chicken is two single finger pecking and duck is all four fingers, pecking with the thumb.  A nice flat bill, you see.

And after tasting the eggs, we now know which we prefer: speck-tacular or plain.


150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs

I am interested in seeing this exhibition which is organized and circulated by the Textile Museum of Canada.  

The opening reception is Thursday, January 26, 2017 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.  

The exhibition runs from January 26 to April 8.

I have been to other circulating exhibitions from the Terxtile Museum of Canada and enjoyed them so much.  Your tax dollar at work for you.   I will probably slip in and see this one a few times.  You can find this by going to the Nickle Galleries which is in the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary. Free.

I can remember my mother hooking rugs.  In fact, I still have those hooks.  As well she braided rugs.  I have those tools as well.  I may go on a search and see if I can find them.


Romeo and Juliette at the Met - Part I

My Top Favourite Moments at the Show
Gounod's Romeo and Juliette
Photo: Met Website

1. Hearing the choreographer say that Diana Damrau was a charm to direct for she has such a natural sense of moving her body on the stage gave me a chance to really watch her movement during the second half. I can’t believe that I got such pleasure out of that.

2. I liked having the music be so familiar and wondered why, since this isn’t a piece I have ever studied. My best guess is that this music is in the background over the years to many stage productions of this play, as well as in many movies.

3. I thought the visit to the costume room of the Met was lovely – getting us ready for Rusalka which I am going to have to give my attention to, knowing nothing about it.

4. Diana Damrau’s singing was electric. On some of her notes I just had to hold my breath and savour the exquisite moment of hearing sound like that.  Talk about practising being in the moment.  Listening to the Met is surely that.

5. Every time someone from the audience yelled “Bravo”, for the performance of Vittorio Grigolo I thought about Bonnie and me telling David that yelling that from the audience is acceptable opera behaviour. And booing is also acceptable we told him. I think David practised a bit of that latter (the booing), which made me laugh. At any rate, every bravo was well deserved.

6. I also enjoyed seeing the bouquets of flowers tossed and wondered how long a person would have to practise with a bouquet that was perfectly tied and weighted so that it got to the stage floor without breaking apart.

7. Hearing the set designer at the intermission was also interesting. Namely, the fact that the company had tried to somewhat neutralize the specificity of the time and place and make it so that it could have happened anywhere / anytime. That gave me pause for thought in the second half.

8. Of course, number 7 above then let me look at the costuming in a different way. I didn’t get enough close-ups of the costuming. I left wanting more.

9. As well, the conductor praised the joys of working with the orchestra, I was thinking about the met chorus and how they have learned to use costume and movement in such a professional way. They support, never over-shadow and are such a joy to watch and hear.  So many of them crowded on the stage, but it never looked overcrowded.

10. Romeo (Grigolo) looked like he could climb any balcony. When asked about his dexterity he looked at Diana Damrau and said, “We have been working out. And we have been practising the choreography of every move for weeks.” And that, I guess is one of the reasons why I am in love with the Opera Series.

11. One more thing.  At the end I was waiting for those last few famous lines in the play, which weren't there, of course.  In spirit, yes.  But I could hear myself saying them:
"A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
12.  If you haven't seen the show and are waiting for the encore, here is a good article on the ball, balcony, bed and tomb. 


Romeo and Juliette by Gounud at the Met - Part II

To get out of the house and on the LRT is more complicated than it used to be. Besides my money and my Scene card, I have to take along my sunglasses, my LRT pass, my evening meds in case the opera is long, some candy in case I need to munch on something to keep me awake (in this case I took along red peppers and an apple), some cream in case my hands feel dry, some water and my cell phone. You can see why by the time I am finished packing up to get out the door, I might feel resentful about the last item – my cell phone. But I feel it is my duty to be able to call for help should I fall or get lost, both of which I will probably do in the next 25 years.
Gounod's Romeo and Juliette
Photo: Met Website

I sat on the back row beside a couple whom I deemed to be even older than I, though it is hard to tell at the opera who is older than whom.

I don’t even think there were any 50 year olds there yesterday. I judge people’s age by the curve of their spine, the pace of their walk, the thinning of the women’s hair, their need to have an appliance with them to keep them stable, the care with which they lower themselves into their seat, the speed with which they can get out of the same chair, and sometimes even the smell – there is a smell that signals “old person”. We weren’t into the opera for very long and I could hear the high whistle of hearing aid that needed adjusting. The whistling sound didn’t go away and I thought, “Well, here goes. I am just going to have to pretend I am in an old folks home for the rest of the opera.”

 When the half came, but we were still in the dark, listening to Diana Damrau and Grigolo and the man beside me began to make quite a commotion getting up, talking loudly to his companion who was helping him, and getting aid from another woman on the side isle. I thought they were taking him out to get in an ambulance. But soon he was back down on the ground on all fours saying I am sorry, I am so sorry. Still I didn’t move not being able to figure out what I would do if I did try to help him. When I heard him murmur hearing aid the light went on for me. I tried to remember which pocket I had put my phone in, remembering that the last time I saw Rebecca she had moved the icons around on my phone so that I could get to my flashlight easily. I powered up my phone and didn’t even need to get to the flashlight on, the screen was so bright. I pointed the light toward the ground and began to run my hand over the cement as he was, looking for the lost hearing aid and whispered at the same time, “Look we have a light. We can find it.” For some reason, I was looking for something as small as a battery, so when I saw the hearing aid I was surprised at its size and continued to the man, “I’ve got it. Look. Here it is.”

That old man was grateful when I put that in his hand. It took a long time for him to get from all fours, back to an upright position. I stayed in my seat while he made the transition and settled down. In that time I began to think how glad I was that I had brought all of the items with me that I begrudge gathering up before I leave the door. That was the moment when I remembered that I had forgotten to transfer my bus pass from my larger purse to my going-to-the-opera bag. So I got to think about whether I would buy a ticket on the way home, or risk getting a summons because I was travelling without proof of payment. But I had remembered 4 out of 5 items which is still getting it 80% right.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Paving the Path Between Two Houses

Richard said that he should pave the path between our houses in the backyard. I do run from my house across the grass, up the their stairs and across the porch, give a few raps at the door and then am into their kitchen far faster than I can find my phone and make a call to them.

When we had our latest snowfall he shovelled the path for me. Now we have had a terrible Chinook – the kind that leaves the roads slushy about 4 pm, and then freezes cars into the slushy tracks at night. Zoe even had to go in the house and get a shovel and ice picker to dig out the taxi that brought her home one night at about 5 pm. How can a taxi drive up to your house and get to mired in the slush that it can’t get out!  I can't even run across that snowpath between our houses right now.  It is a sea of waves that have frozen and are waiting to melt.  Also a perfect place to slip and break a person's ankle.

I do walk over to Miranda’s and Richard’s often. A few days ago to get HelpDesk information from Miranda I slipped in the back door. She is there for me when I can’t figure out how to reconnect my computer to the internet after a computer lock-out, or when I can’t stop the alarm on my phone from repeatedly going off.

Alice saw me walk in the door.  She waved me to go back out the door saying, “Not you. Joan.”

Joan is their maternal grandmother and she was scheduled to come and pick them up for a play date over at her house. I don’t blame Alice for being afraid that the wrong grandmother was there. I don’t have a car that has 2 booster seats in the back.  Thus, I am never going to take them anyplace.

Joan is at least 20 years younger than me and she plays a mean game of Hide and Seek which even makes her more of a super-grandmother.

 I love Joan, too.  And I also love the path that needs to be paved between my house and the house next door.



Photo: Leah Hennel
I have been enjoying the Swerve article this morning called "Oodles of NOODLES" for a number of reasons.

One of them is that it is hard not to think about the infinite variety of food in the world, especially if a person is a little hungry.

The second reason is that the article is written by Calgary's food critic, John Gilchrist whose classes I took a number of years ago.

Reading the article was like being in one of those classes -- learning about the history of the food being eaten, in this case about the broth, the noodles, the toppings, the slurping, the temperature, and the popularity.  Reading the article was just like being back in one of those classes and having the information delivered between courses.

I have already got it in my mind to try one of the ramen restaurants he mentions.  There are some in each of the four quarters of Calgary.  Yes, a ramen house close to me ... and you.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Spelling Cribbage

Chinese lanterns
decorating for Chinese New Year
My cribbage board surfaced when I opened a Chinese Chest that I am using for a decoration for the Chinese New Year.

I didn’t think much about it until Michael came over to read and began to beg me to play cribbage with him.

“Not until you are in Grade III,” I said.

The more he begged the firmer I was with my no’s, and absolutely not’s.

 But I did tell him I would give in and play just one game with him, and there would be new rules.

 The player would get to peg, the number of letters of any word that they could spell.

 Then I left the reading materials on the table so he would have a large pool of words to draw from.
... pegging is such fun to do .

First he pegged c-a-t right out of his mind. Then he pegged c-a-b from a word he could see on the table. It wasn’t long until he had figured out it was better to choose a long word like yellow, than a short one like cat.

There is nothing like the thrill of being ahead in a game of Spelling Cribbage. I stayed just a nose behind him as he worked his way along the cribbage board, learning to take the peg behind and count out the letters ahead of the next peg on the board.

... finding a word with a lot of letters to spell  ...
I pulled out all of the Valentine words we have been practising – even so that he could see them, rehearsing them for him.

I let him peg long phrases like “U R 4 Me”. 

Just as he reached the finish line, his mom called for him to come home.

I opened the door and watched him walk in the darkness, stopping to pick up snow and pitch it at some imaginary target. The day has been hot, but now it was freezing and the ice was crusty and sharp.

Michael didn’t mind his lack of mitts.

He had no anxiety about getting home sooner rather than later as he lobbed one snowball and then another. He called back to me, “Don’t mind. I can get home on my own.” I stopped watching him, at least so that he could see me watching.  When I could hear his feet tromping across their porch and I was sure his mother would know he was coming in the door, I closed my door.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book of Mormon: The Musical

Josh Gad as Elder Cunningham
and the cast of The Book of Mormon.

I have been out chatting with others about the Book of Mormon: The Musical.  Just to contexualize this, we had been talking about catching ourselves concerning racism and the topic went to this musical.

Some of the people I have been talking with have seen it.  I have not seen it on the stage.

I have watched it many times on u-tube.

Mary sent me the following gift when I told her that I have been wanting to write on essay on that musical.  There is something about it that is just bubbling up in me and I think it is the source of a good essay.

I just haven't taken a class where I could work it in yet.

Mary sent me the give of five reviews I hadn't read before.

Here they are if anyone else is out gearing to write an essay.

About all I can do is get these reviews up.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Romeo and Juliette - HD Live

Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau as the title characters in
 “Roméo et Juliette.”Credit

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
This opera by Gounod may be packed on Saturday.  It plays again on February 18th.

 I think I will get my tickets ahead and then hope that the weather is right and I feel like hitting the movie at 11 am on Saturday.

Here is a review from the New York Times:
Romeo and Juliette, Flush and Feverish at the Opera by Zachary Woolfe, Dec 22, 2016
Nothing to make one's heart sing like music does.


Botticelli's Inferno

I had pencilled into my daytimer that Botticelli's Inferno would come to the screen via film:
The Renaissance master Botticelli spent over a decade painting and drawing hell as the poet Dante described it. The film takes us on a journey through hell with fascinating and exciting insights into Botticelli's art and its hidden story.
The IMDB site has nine photos that will give you a taste of what  you will see in the film.

Here is a Toronto Film Scene review.

The film is only 1 hour and 35 minutes long.  I am going to try to stay awake during the whole thing!  On these art films, I am working so hard at remembering every word that is said, that I am asleep in about 20 minutes.  Last time at the Bosch film Charise had to poke me more than 10 times!

In Calgary the reprise of the Botticelli will be Jan 29 at 12:55 pm.

This piece of art is held at the Uffizzi.  If I were to go to Italy and stand for an hour looking at the painting, I would be less comfortable than I am going to be in the show, sitting in my seat and getting close-ups that I could never get in the museum, even if I were there.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Twins in a Hammock

I am demonstrating with a Kleenex
which is not exactly square, but will do.
Every parent has a bag of tricks to entertain their children with.

Often this is done with minimal equipment.

 I will always remember Doral told me that with just few rocks he could entertain a whole Scout troop playing the game of Duck on a Rock.
After the first twin is rolled, you must hold it in place,
and then roll the second twin, holding them both in place
while you take the underside of the blanket on which
the twins are laying and pull it to the left,
making sure the twins don't roll off of the blanket

A game he taught me when I was very young is Twins in a Hammock.

I can remember learning how to do this in church.

I can still see the worn red cushioned pew and the back of the bench in front of me, scratches dug into that bench – some child before me who had carved their name into it.

 I can remember learning how to do this in church.

Here they are, ready to swing, perhaps
to the tune of Rock-a-bye, Baby.
I can still see the worn red cushioned pew and the back of the bench in front of me, scratches dug into that bench – some child before me who had carved their name into it.

To entertain me, his linen handkerchief was laid out flat on his knee, then folded into a triangle.

The twins were rolled from either end to the middle.

Then the under side of the handkerchief was pulled out and twins could be rocked.

It took me a long time to master this talent.

Between these church benches is also where I learned the difference between men’s and women’s handkerchiefs.
Can you tell which twin is wanting
to be burped?

My mother’s hankie was smaller and lace trimmed with a tiny pink rosette in one corner.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wake-Up Time

There are plenty of mornings when I wake up and think about that old Dean Martin joke:
I feel sorry for people who don't drink.  When they wake up in the morning, they know that is the best they are going to feel all day.
While this is not absolutely true, it may be 99% true about getting old.
In my case, I used to be able to wake up, dress, have breakfast and be out of the house in twenty minutes.

Now when I wake up in 20 minutes I can just get out of bed.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Reading the Comics

Michael and I read out of early primers a number of times a week. It takes me far longer to prepare for the reading lesson I give him than to give the lesson. We are always done in less than ten minutes. Preparation is at least one-half hour. I have been trying to mix up the activities to give some variety to what we do every day. It occurred to me that he might like to take a look at the comics in the newspaper.

I was curious to see if he would show some interest. The Calgary Herald is delivered every morning and I notice that when I ask the adults here at home if they would like to look at it, all of them decline. They like their news delivered electronically. I am still attached to paper – the bridge column, the food section, the book reviews, the movie reviews, the theatre reviews, the letters to the editor, the obituaries – I do them all. But I don’t look at the comics.

In preparation for giving a taste of them to Michael, I began to save that coloured pages which I used to call “the funnies”. Michael was over for longer than usual and so I pulled out a page and offered to read it to him. He couldn’t get enough of it. And I discovered that some of the offerings are connected, a theme carrying over for many days, which I must have known sometime before, but had forgotten.

... Sherman and the Lagoon ...
one of our favourite strips
It was especially evident in Sherman and the Lagoon. I noticed that if I explained the jokes to Michael, I first had to tell him what it was that we were expecting to hear or see, and then why what we did see or hear was so funny.

Jokes aren’t that funny when they are explained in such detail, except to a five year old. The funniest joke may have been Bizzaro. 

A witch was shopping in the Deep Dark Forest Grocery Store. She had her black cape and hat on and a basket over her arm and she was looking at apples. There were many choices and the names of the apples were on each bin: Gala, MacIntosh, Delicious, Poisonous, Ambrosia ....

The bonus today, Saturday, is that the comics are all enlarged and cover 3 pages. What a joy!

All in all, a happy day with the newspaper for us.


Leaf Allsorts

 ... the original sheep and fences ...
I think back to when I was young, to moments that I loved.

Then I try to re-create those experiences, either with my children or my grandchildren.

One gentle memory is when my dad would bring home a package of liquorice, the kind that were bullet shaped with an outer candied coating .

He would lay them on the table and tell me that we were going to play Sheep and Fences.

... no making fences for sheep in her mind ...
 I would pick the white and black ones out to be the sheep and then build fences: herd the sheep to the inside of the pen, march them out, close the gate, open the gate back up, get them inside again, all the while working hard to keep the little liquorice fences from rolling around and ruining the beauty of the symmetry I had built.

I don't remember eating the candy as much.  I only remember the joy of the game.
... Alice made a vehicle and was dismayed
when one of the wheels fell off ...
The candy isles don’t carry that kind of liquorice anymore. I looked all through December for it and could only find Allsorts: Assorted Licorice Candy.  And they would be made by different companies:  Leaf, Maynards, or maybe Bassett's.

Not to be dissuaded at least from the spirit of the game of Sheep and Fences, I took a 400 gram package of Allsorts over for dessert with Michael, Alice and Betty.

My plan was to explain the game from my childhood and then see if we could do the sme thing ... or even improvise.

Everyone was given a cutting board, a butter knife and a dinner knife for tools.

We sorted by shape sometimes and sometimes by colour.

I was surprised that I didn’t have the nomenclature to deal with the game so I began to make up some of my own.
... the two towers, going down ...

There are the five decker sandwiches to begin with: neon pinks, yellows and greens sandwiching the square flat liquorice.

And then I became aware of a few black plugs of liquorice.

 There is a marshmallow plug that has a band of liquorice around its circumference.

... Allsorts in both cheeks ...
Michael found he could pull that outer coating off by running his thumb along one side of it and then peeling it off. 

Michael spent a long time trying to pick the blue beads off of the baby-blue flat jellies.

There is another easy peel.  It is the yellow circle that has a black liquorice plug.  Just rubbing my thumb on those yellow flakes brought then off -- sticky pieces of cocoanut!

I tried to help the kids, though it was very hard to get them to share their tools or their boards.

We could cut the candy in half, but there was no way of scraping those jellies off! 

They just didn't fall.

“Can you help me with this, Dad,” Michael asked Richard. 

 “I can’t do any better job than you are doing, son,” came the reply.  

And of course there is the coin-like circle that is surrounded with cocoanut. 

Here, at least the flavour of the candy changes.

I explained about sheep and fences to the kids.

Their game turned into trucks and towers.  I went back to sheep and fences with Betty.   Always good when at least the 18 month old will listen.

Betty practised putting in as many candies in her mouth as she could at once.

Richard and I also tested out the flavours but not in the same quantity.

No one seemed to mind loosing a few of the candies to the adults, since the kids were more interested in their building projects than in eating.
... I think I can go even higher ...
I think Betty managed to get the most in her mouth at once: the high number for her was eight.  That was far too many to swallow so she needed someone standing by to catch them when she figured out they could not go down her throat.

I know the only way to take care of that is for an adult to extend a cupped hand under a child's chin and let the candy (or whatever is going to come out of their moth) roll over their lips, down their chin and be caught by someone's hand before it hits the ground.

I had forgotten that I would need at least one wet cloth at the table.


Where is the food scrap can?

From Moiya:
LtoR: Moiya, Darla Bonnie, Wyona, Arta

What year was this?

Can anyone guess?

Look, Wyona is the only one wearing an apron.

Not much countertop space.

We are all so blessed.

Just look at the size of that refrigerator!

I loved that house.

Look at the kitchen tools/slash toy drawer!

Where is the food scrap can?

Will that kitchen ever get clean?

Does anyone else have any pictures showing, the front hallway, the crying room, the kitchen table, the mangle iron, the dining room, the living room with the mantle and mirror,the hallway, the bathroom or the bedrooms and of course, don’t forget any basement pictures? A picture of the deer hanging from the rafters in the laundry room would be exceptional, too. How about any of the pictures with pheasants, ducks, geese or game on top of the truck? I would also like to see a picture of the dog kennel in the back with the rabbit pen stuck to the side of the kennel.

Reminiscing Moiya

Elkhoury-Manesh Wedding

... chocolate from the Khoury-Manesh wedding ...
Eliana came bearing gifts from Lebanon:  2 boxes of baklava -- one for me and one for Kelvin.

And then she brought me  tablet showing the Phoenician alphabet, which Michael and I will try to copy.

And what I can't open is the gift of chocolate, wrapped with lace and topped with a flower sprinkled with moon dust.

With her permission I am going to post some pictures of the wedding.  I had her sit by my side while I asked hundreds of questions about the pictures -- it was like being at the wedding.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Staying in the moment - Black Ice on TCH

This morning I heard on the radio that there had been a serious car accident on the road between Sicamous and Salmon Arm, with a medivac being called in.

It's always unnerving to hear there has been a serious accident. More unnerving when the accident is  on a road frequented by family and friends.

So ... I breathed deeply, focused on the road, and gave everyone a call when I got home. Whew. Everyone accounted for.

Here's a link to what is know as of 10am Jan 6 2017 about the accident near Bernie Road.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


First time in HD
The running time on the Verdi's Nabucco 
is 2 hours and 43 minutes.

You can catch it this Saturday (January 7th) or on any three of its Encore dates in Calgary: February 4th, 6th and 8th.

Review: James Livine and Placido Domingo Storm the Met Anew

I am telling Moiya this morning that I think she will recognize this u-tube clip of the Hebrew Slaves Chorus.


On the First Day of Christmas ...

 ... ten pipers piping ...
 ... 11 maids a dancing ...
From Catherine:

Does everyone remember the Christmas Kelve gave everyone a 12 days of Christmas mug.

I love mine.

Use them all year long although they get used nearly daily during Christmas. If any of you want to gift me yours (assuming you aren't using them) I'm trying to put together the entire set. I'll be hunting on kigigi and ebay but thought I'd start the easiest placed-- with you.

Happy new year everyone.

Love to you all.

From Arta:

... pipers' coaster ...
There was a coaster that came along with the mug.  It looks like I ended up with your coaster.  Pretty expensive to get it back, having to fly here, but well worth the search.

Did you hear the Christmas special with the Boston Pops this year, Catherine?

They did the most clever arrangement of the 12 Days of Christmas.  Brought in Beethoven's Fifth, some of the Hallelujah chorus and enchanting secular songs.

Next year I am going to teach this song (The 12 Days of Christmas) to Michael and Alice.

Oh yes, here I am already planning for next year.

Let's start now and count the days until Christmas.