Sunday, November 17, 2019

Getting the MMIWG in Hard Copy

I love being around Rebecca. No problem is too hard to solve. I want to read the Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I could find it online, but that is not my preferred place to study a text. I love to have a few coloured markers, pens and pencils and a ruler around so that I can write to myself in the margins, or draw a long line from one idea to another or leave a question to consider later – or for someone else to consider when they pick up my copy of the book.

I could also find the book as a download but that wouldn’t work for me either.  For all the same reasons.

I must have opined these thoughts to Rebecca for she said she joined me in the idea that hardcopy is best.

... my copies of the MMIWG ...
So she had the copy centre at the university print shop bind a printout with a simple coil binding: $106 for each of our copies.

Four books.

Part 1a is so large that it had to be split at page 346 and the rest of the pages follow in another coil binding.

I am so happy with the books. I am up to page 80 on !a.

This is an inquiry that didn’t go well. People who were appointed to it, kept stepping down. Process can always go wrong and in this case the authors of the report apologize to those for whom the process was not clear.

I don’t know that much about the report itself yet. ve miles and miles to go before I finish reading and then go to sleep.

A bit of a hyperbole.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Occasionally I check in with Doral by telephone to see how his lungs are doing.

He usually deflects the conversation to tell me the name of the most recent board game that his family is play which is Parks right now.

I have gone to see the video that describes how to play the game.

Part of the charm of the game, it would seem, is the gorgeous art work and of course, the chance to visit a National park as a destination in a board game.

Fun. I may try it.


Othello – a first at UVic

Image retrieved from
This is the first year that the drama department at the University of Victoria has mounted Shakespeare’s Othello. Rebecca had three tickets. At the last moment, Duncan said he was staying home, so that gave us an extra seat to put our jackets on. He has seen Othello twice already. He said that in the NT Live production, Othello took too long to smoother Ophelia and that he want to spend the evening suffering along with her, since it was probable that the play was going to end the same way again.

Rebecca’s colleague, Bob, had told her that he has seen the show last week and that it was absolutely the best production he had ever seen. Bob spends a lot of time, flying to the US or to London to see opera or theatre. I respect his opinion and was curious as to what it was that made Bob say that.

By the intermission Rebecca and I had much to say to each other. I could hardly contain myself from leaning over and talking to her while the first act was going on, worried that I would forget my thoughts before I had time to express them. The show was done in black and white, both the scenery and the costuming. The music was live, either madrigals strolling along in the market scenes, or a drum, set up on the one of the stairs that the audience might normally use, beating as though it were a heart.

Iago was sufficiently evil. I spent a lot of my evening watching the actor; he was clever, often use his body to express a word or a phrase. He had some movement of his hand or his head or his hips that would underscore the text – or perhaps his feet would take a different stance, or his lungs would fill with evil, it seemed. Rebecca called his performance being into the text, taking it on as his own.

As we were entering the theatre, I heard someone asked the ticket taker how the performance would be. I heard her say that she has seen it five times. I know why. I would return in a heartbeat. Oh, except for the scene where Ophelia gets smothered.

I might shut my eyes next time.


Dogs were in the Dog Pen

When I grew up, dogs were in the dog pen and we were in the house.

My dad loved dogs, just outside. I think my mother told me that the first time she ever saw my father, he was walking a dog, and she thought, I would never marry a man who has a dog.

Doral liked pedigreed dogs. He wanted them to have papers. He might spend months getting a dog with just the right pedigree. As well, the cocker spaniels or setters were hunting dogs. He liked to show them at Fields Trials, most of which were run on Sundays. He went to them until there was a time when he thought it was better to be in church with his children, than out competing for trophies.

Still he loved his dogs and he liked to train them for when he went hunting. I can remember being a little girl out behind the house and standing beside him. He had a piece of a hot dog in his hand and when the dog would obey his command, he would reward the dog. He was proud of his dogs and of their ability to fetch when told, or to retrieve a duck or a pheasant and put it right at his feet.

I am wondering now why I can’t remember any of the names of the dogs, though one may have been named Spot. Or was that the dog that Dick and Jane had in my Grade I reader?

We never played with the dogs. If they got out of the kennel they were long gone across the field before my dad knew we had tried to peek inside the pen at them. The dogs weren’t pets for us, so much as they were my dad’s hobby and his companions when he went hunting.

On that note, I can remember his red hunting coat and hat – a precaution for all hunters so that they didn’t get shot while they were hiding in the bushes. Those red jackets didn’t always work. One day Doral was hunting with a new hunter who saw the bushes rustle and then shot his gun, so Doral had lots of pieces of shot in his face. I can remember my mother picking them out with tweezers the day of and the weeks after the incident, for the ones that were buried deeper would eventually make their way to the top of his skin. I don’t think he ever went hunting with that guy again.

My gosh, I forgot about the duck decoys that were in the shed that was under our walkout south side back door. There was a steep decline from that back door, down the hill and to the basement door. That shed didn’t have a door. It housed tires, and the duck decoys. I think I can still smell that cold, dank musty, dirty smell of the shed. I know the walls were cement.  Perhaps the floor was dirt.

I didn’t set out to say all of that, only as background to the fact that we had dogs that were kept in a pen when I was young.

Steve and the boys have a dog here – a different kind of dog – an indoor family dog. She gets mixed up about her place in the house, sometimes forgetting she is a dog and confusing herself with being human. She wants to cuddle on laps. She is like any two year old who has a toy and wants someone to play with her.

"I think I will take a bite right here under the M".
She is in my bad books today.

I left Rebecca’s gloves on top of the shoe rack when I came in from my walk.

Usually I take my gloves to a mandarin orange box which is acting like my glove box in my bedroom, and at a medium height in my since I have a new interest in mittens and gloves.

But instead of acting on that habit, today I was disconnecting my earphones from my telephones and forgot about where I had placed the gloves.

Walking with my phone and listening to music is something I have only barely learned to do. As I have said before, my life is full of simple pleasures. Learning how to get earphones on and do an hour’s walk listening to music is a new one.

I forgot about the gloves. Rebecca brought one to me and said, “Look, here is another glove of mine you might want to wear, but it has a hole in it and it is newly wet.”

Whoops. That is one of her gloves I wore this morning. The dog must have playfully chewed a hole in it.

As I said, when I grew up, dogs were in the dog pen.


On Writing Essays

... the sun rises at our house ...
I love writing essays.

I can’t help myself.

There is a certain amount of pleasure in taking a topic, and then having a one-on-one discussion with the instructor, trying to get into or around some problem or to pick out the threads that bind a problem that seems unsolvable.

I am thinking about this love of writing in the case of living here with Duncan who is in his first year at Camosun College. He is registered in a course called History through Film, which is a little different than what I was interested in about film, more what does film do with history, than what can we learn about history through film. Those are two absolutely different topics. Still we have great discussions – and lots of movie night here as he makes his way through his viewing list.

He was writing an essay and both Rebecca and I got to read his work. When the essay was done, I had the question, I wonder what Duncan learned while writing this essay. I reversed the question and asked it of myself.

I think that question is still important to me – what do I know now that I didn’t know a few days ago.

The answer to the question can be taken as embarrassing, to me – but I am trying to change it around into thinking that it is astonishing that I could miss pieces of information.

In Duncan’s essay, one was that he quoted Stokely Carmichael, as one of his primary sources. I haven’t ever read much about him, only heard him quoted. Though not often enough, for I thought his name was Stokey. So that was the first thing I learned.

I also learned how to quote a film in the Bibliography using Chicago Style, as opposed to APA. I love burrowing down into a style manual and finding out which of the variations will apply to the film or book I am quoting. My life is full of small pleasure, but still pleasures.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Perfect Reading Material

Rebecca is generous.

When I go shopping with her, she is always inviting me to put anything in the cart.


I can never find anything I want to buy, more than she is putting in the cart.

Oh sometimes, I might want to take out of the cart some things she is putting in. That is only an initial impulse I have. If someone wants to buy every kind of mushroom on the shelves, it shouldn’t seem like an extravagance. She is merely buying food, not going down the candy isle as I might.

Now I could go down the candy isle and fill the cart with chocolate bar.  As I said, she is generous.

But that wouldn’t be all that good for me, would it? And would it be good for her?  She hasn’t had any sugar for a whole year, although there was her first small slip yesterday.

Someone brought to the office a home made chocolate, and she tasted one of Duncan’s Cadbury Mini Easter Egg as well. And if I add everything in,  she ate an apple, and one pommelo – all of which are off the Keyto diet. Other than that, she is transforming her food choices.

One day we lingered over the peppers in the store: habanero, jalepeno, peppers, the peppers from really tiny ones, to longer sweet ones from Chili. We just aren’t admiring them. We are thinking of food we could put them in, and of the gloves that we will have to use so that our hands don’t burn from the capsicum oil.

Add caption
I only wanted one item: a book I have picked up from the magazine rack and then put down on several of our grocery store trips: Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Chocolate Desserts.

How could a book like that make a person so happy?

It is the text around the recipes that thrills me.

A first person-voice telling me every step they have taken to produce what they think is the ultimate way to make any of those recipes.

There are side bars explaining the best food products to buy, as well as tips on pots to use.

I read the book last night, just before going to bed. 

What a way to get downtime. I curled up in a chair beside the gas fire and carefully read each sentence until my head began to nod. Then I slipped into bed, so happy to have read recipes I will never make.  Still I was so close to the food, I could almost taste it as I licked it off of the beaters.


A Bun Christmas Treel

... roll the buns and place on the tray ...
... make sure to leave lots of room for the dough to rise ...
Moiya has gone to Calgary to hug and cuddle the new little Elizabeth Wood at Matthew and Stacey's house.

I don't know if she will be called Elizabeth or any of the lovely nicknames that go along with Elizabeth:Lizzie, Beth, Betty, Eliza -- the list is endless.

Before Moiya left Salmon Arm, she was in the middle of making something with a Christmas tree theme for a weekend party.

She settled on a Christmas tree made out of cheese buns.

Now this is a lot of work, but it really made me laugh.

There is not much cheaper to play with than bread dough.

I asked Moiya for the recipe.
When the buns are finished proofing,
they will look like this.

She said that it is just Marina's cheese bun recipe.

Well, thankfully she sent me pictures of steps one, two and three.

It does look like Moiya is using parchment paper.

I don't know when parchment paper because a staple in my pantry.

Perhaps 10 years ago?

Having the tree on parchment paper looks like the secret.

... I can almost smell that fresh warm air above the buns...
As well, Moiya put little stars on the top bun, by rolling tiny piece of dough and then artfully making them into a star.

She did a couple of extra buns in case the first one didn't work out.

Now why she did any of this I will never know since the first person in the buffet line will ruin that art of the creation and it will just be a pan of buns after 10 people have taken one.

Still, it is something I would have tried.

Something I may still try.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

On Gloves

... Rebecca's red leather gloves ...
Who gives themselves permission to buy gloves like these?
My friend Ria participates in a knitting group where they knit gloves.

While I don’t want to knit gloves, I might want to participate in that group and watch their needles click away, after reading Ria say that there are patterns for all kinds of mitts: Newfie mitts, Scandinavian mitts, plain mitts, fancy mitts.

The woman who is leading the group said she thinks of mitts as winter jewellery for the hands.

I think that is the word that caught my attention.


When I arrived in Victoria, Rebecca lent me a pair of simple inexpensive gloves that a person might just pick off the rack at the grocery store or at Canadian Tire: 2 pair for $5. They are flexible and serviceable.

... the top of the glove has a a decorative line of stitching
like a pin tuck, and lined with small dots ...
... breathtaking ...
They aren’t showing wear and tear from thrusting them through and then back out of the loops attached to my walking sticks.

And she gave me a pair of red leather gloves, telling me that she has had them for some time, hadn’t put them on her hands, and that I really should use them.

I put them on occasionally, and they are a perfect fit.

I use one hand to press the fingers of the gloves tightly into my bottom of my finger and then switch hands and do the same.

The leather is so supple and the curves of the fingers so perfect that for some reason I think about the craft of the person who sewed these gloves.

I wear them for a while, just enjoying the feel of them and then I take them off.  That takes about ten minutes.   I couldn’t bear to have them show some sign of wear so all of this is done in my bedroom while I just sit for a while and admire gloves.

I am going back to Calgary and there is a good reason to have multiple pairs of mitts since we all know that in Calgary a person should also have coats for all seasons and coverings for their hands since the temperature can dip tens of degrees in one day.

... the bottom of Rebecca's glove is trimmed with a ruffle and a slit ...
I am always looking at scarves, though I will never have a reason to buy another one.

The scarf category of accessories is a black hole for me – another length of beautiful fabric that gives warmth?  Why not.

 But I really think I am going to look at the gloves more carefully and make sure that I buy some for all kinds of weather, and then a few as jewellery.

What a fabulous idea!


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Juicer

Many years ago Rebecca participated in late night shopping on TV, buying herself, among other things, a juicer.

Steve couldn’t really understand why she bought it, but she saw it, wanted it, and soon it was delivered.

I haven’t ever seen them use that machine.

That is until lately.

Now Alex has taken to juicing vegetables, the newest combination of which is about 4 apples, 10 carrots, 4 beets and sometimes ginger root, and sometimes not.

The colour of the juice of the apples is so golden, and when the beet juice drops into the holding container, the colour of the red is so deep.

The two juices don’t mix well – like oil and water Alex and I were saying to each other. The pulp gets thrown away.

I have been watching it in the compost, admiring all of that fibre and remembering that Glen had told me that some people make bread out of the fibre in the left-overs when he makes beer.

... only with a close-up can you see the lovely red flecks ...
For a long time I have been wanting to test out cooking the vegetable fibre that is left over from Alex’s juicing and this was my morning to do it.

The bread is beautiful, speckled with red dots, kind of like those angel food confetti cake mixes we used to buy years ago.

I added about 2 cups of the fibre, maybe only 1 ½ cup, not that it matters.

The bread is moister than I might have imagined and I have been thinking about that.

I used to put cooked vegetables blended into bread I was making. I haven’t tried adding the fibre from raw vegetables, especially something like beets since they need to be cooked a long time.

Duncan and I also tested some of the dough dough to see if we could produce bannock in a frying pan.

 Mmm to the fried bread which Duncan says he hasn’t tasted before.

Curious.  I think I have pan friend 100's of pounds of bread dough.

Duncan doesn’t eat a lot of things.

He did share that this eating palette, which used to be small, is expanding.

He said it took him until he was an adult to figure out that what tastes different and what tastes he doesn’t like are two separate categories.

He said that knowing the difference has opened up a whole range of things he can eat now.

Today I found out that one of those the foods added to his “like” list is beet, carrot, apple whole wheat bread.


Monday, November 11, 2019

A Needle and Thread

... at least the needle had an eye
through which I could push the thread ...
I have been thinking about sewing for many days now.

The ideas may have come to my mind because a pearl button fell off of a jean jacket that is not mine.

The jacket I wear Rebecca’s.

I told her that I would sew it back on if she would bring me a needle and thread.

I wear the jacket when I am here.

I have tried to get it off her, dispossession – by telling her it is old, or that she will not be able to fit it again, or I just tell her outright that I love jean apparel more than she does and if for that reason only, the jacket should go to me.

Or I may have been thinking about sewing when I read an article where the author was bemoaning the loss of the skills that some of us picked up in high school: how to sew, how to cook, how to repair a car, how to type, even how to do simple accounting. Old people have a habit of warning young people that they are not developing skills that will keep them alive. My grandfather told me that I was wasting my time in high school. What I really needed to know was how to start a fire. He thought I should go into the field behind my house and practise that art of fire building until I was good at it. I gave him the fact that starting a fire might have been a desirable skill that served his mother well, but I couldn’t see how cooking over a campfire that I had started myself was going to be of much use to me. Oh, I didn’t tell him that. I only thought it.

... nothing so satisfying as a button with a strong shank ...
Sewing had also come to my mind, for I was wondering where the party dress was that I made in Sewing 30. We had to make an evening dress using chiffon, taffeta or silk. I picked out a highly patterned abstract printed pink fabric, with a pattern that high lighted a closing in the front with about 10 graceful scallops all of which had hand bound button holes which my teacher taught me to do, and which I executed with extreme precision. When it was time to hem the dress, she told me to bring a pair of high heels to class and she would turn the hem for me. While she was on her knees, with pins in her mouth, making the hem even, she asked me if I were going to wear it to the high school graduation evening dance. I was horrified. I hadn’t ever thought that the dress would be worn – I was only making it for a project. Wear it and dance with a boy? That sounded like torture on both fronts and that was absolutely not something that had ever entered my mind that I would want to do.

Another girl in the class was making a strapless gown to wear. I can remember the detailed instructions about how that dress was going to be held up. My classmate had the figure for it. Strapless dresses were banned in my religious community so I knew I would never be wearing a dress like that. Still I was interested in how the bodice was being boned and if I fanaticized ever wearing that dress, all I could think of is that if I tried to do a 360 degree turn it it, my body would make the turn and the dress would be left behind.

I have no idea why I was thinking about sewing. Perhaps because I have been thinking sewing because I have been thinking about knitting as well. A lot of old people knit. I don’t mean the old people from my past were knitters, those I watched when I was young. I mean the old people who are knitters and in my cohort, now. Some knit to keep their hands busy. Some knit because knitting fills their minds with joy – maybe in the intricacies of the patterns they can create. My idea of knitting is finding a sweater at the thrift store that has been hand knit and that I can now buy for less than the wool cost the knitter.

What may be worrying me is that I am a sewer, but I am pretty sure that when I get so old that I have to go into a home, that I won’t be able to take my sewing machine with me. Now if I were a knitter, I could take along my needles and my wool, but I don’t think sewing in the old folks home is an open option. I have been watching those old folks homes. There is hardly room for a bed in a room, let alone a sewing machine.

Reader Meets Author

I attended a Reader Meets Author event last week at the law school.  
They run a series of talks so that when someone on the faculty publishes a new book, that all can go listen to an event celebrating that publishing.  
John Borrows has published a new book: Law's Indigenous Ethics. 
Four people read the book and were on a panel, discussing the it.  
I just now went out to find out who the publisher is I could write it on the blog and I  got way laid with a description of the book, which some might enjoy:
Law’s Indigenous Ethics examines the revitalization of Indigenous peoples’ relationship to their own laws and, in so doing, attempts to enrich Canadian constitutional law more generally. Organized around the seven Anishinaabe grandmother and grandfather teachings of love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect, this book explores ethics in relation to Aboriginal issues including title, treaties, legal education, and residential schools. 
The hour spent listening to the speakers was an hour well-spent.  I think they will publish some of what they wrote as they responded to his book.  When those get published on the Reconciliation Blog (you can link to it at the side of this blog), then I will put links here.

Until then -- an event I would not have wanted to miss.  John Borrows is an amazing colleague as are the people who responded to him.

As Rebecca and I reviewed what we had heard in the evening, she was reminded again that some who responded from other faculties began their talks by saying that there is a certain fear when responding to people in the Faculty of Law.  That is a feeling in conversation that she hopes will be dispelled some day.

I read parts of the book, but not all. Some has been published before as articles in journals.

I do want to acknowledge that I have changed my practise around respect.

The Anishinaabe's grandmother and grandfather's 7th teaching is respect, which in Anishinaabemowin means to "go easy on someone".

That kind of respect has also been the topic of our conversation during the days that have followed the talk.


Pick Your Own Treat Run

... find a recipe from the past ...
The Johnson's Manna from Heaven book
Late at night when it was time to begin playing board games Rebecca called Duncan and Alex to the car saying, “A treat run first. To 7-11 or would you like to run in and out of Save-On foods”.

The boys choose the grocery store.

On entering all of us headed in different directions and down the grocery isle of their choice.

I picked up 3 pounds of butter (since we have been buying it pound by pound and I wanted to get ahead), the largest bag of chocolate chips I could find ($5 off so it was a deal), and some apples and some oranges.

... drop the cookies on the tray ...
... take your toes out of the picture next time ...
The plus is I knew we were out of onions, and though not a treat per se, they feel like a treat if I can find one when I think I am out of them.

 So those were in my cart.

I began to pass the Alex, Duncan and Rebecca as I walked up and down the isles.

Rebecca had put apples and oranges in her grocery cart, so I put mine back on the shelves.

Alex had bought butter and onions as well, so I put mine back.

Duncan had a large bag of chocolate chips from the bulk bin isle, so I put mine back. I came out of the store, empty handed. The mint flavoured chocolate chips were the best find ever for him!

... eat while warm ...
Duncan has been adding the to the grocery list each time we go out: “mint chocolate chips”.

I am sure we bought some last year, but I can never find them on the shelves and always come home empty handed telling him that I have made major searches in the baking isle.

Now he finds them in the bulk section. I should be inserting some happy faces and hearts here, just to let people know how glorious it is to have mint chocolate chips when making the old family special, banana chip cookies.

What a nutty treat run!

Wish I had been at the party

Brooks Meet the Woods
for Karaoke and Ice Cream

Back Row - LtoR: Marina, Owen, Autumn, Xavier

Second Row - LtoR: Dan, Oscar, Mary, Leo
Front Row- Lto R: Pepper, Naomi, Rhiannon

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Looking forward to Akhnaten

I missed going to Puccini's Butterfly this morning.  It was a conscious choice.  Rebecca and I are going to spend 5 quiet hours on a Saturday in her office instead -- hoping to get ahead with writing, though that never really happens, does it.

Anthony Roth Costanzo in Akhnaten Karen Almond / Met Opera
We already have our tickets for Phillip Glass's Akhnaten to be telecast January 23rd.

She flies out that evening to Australia and I go back to Calgary.

Normal people would be packing that day, but what isn't packed the day before is not going with us.  Opera first, vacation comfort second.

I don't know much about Phillip Glass.

Anthony Roth Costanzo in Akhnaten 
Paola Kudacki / Met Opera
So I will make some notes between now and then.  Here are the places I am going to visit on my notes taking tour:

The review of Akhnaten from The Guardian when the opera played at the Collesium in London and closed February 2019 was my beginning place to learn a  bit more.

And go inside rehearsals is a good link of 28 seconds of juggling in Akhnaten from the Metropolitan site.

Here is a review from Playbill which is where I will go to take most of my notes.

Here is an 8 minute you tube clip of The Window of Appearances for anyone who might not be able to get there, but who has 8 minutes to watch an 2013 production of the opera.

That is about it on how I am going to go about my homework for Akhnaten.


New Dish Towels

I kept putting “buy dish towels” on the grocery shopping list.
A pile of leaves under a tree.

I stop to take a picture because
I have stepped on huge leaves
and I want someone else to witness
the size of these leaves.
Note the yellow one, midline on the left.

But going to the grocery store is not the best place to buy large dish towels.

So buy new dish towels kept getting moved from list to list, but never being purchased.

Rebecca doesn’t like shopping.

She really doesn’t like shopping.

She would rather mark papers than go shopping.

Going shopping is the only place I see her get a bit grumpy and that grumpiness falls upon her the minute she gets in the car and turns on the ignition key.

I had not only been asking her to buy new dish towels. I wanted a table where I could put up my computer and never have to move it. Steve has fixed up her office with a new table and screens and it is a place I would love to work, but I am third in line. The office belongs to Rebecca. Alex likes to use it when she is gone. That puts me third in line for that space.

So Rebecca and I went to the thrift store, not wanting to spend that much money since I am not going to be in Victoria for long. The amazing dark wood dining room table with beautiful lathed legs that was there was too heavy and too long for her (just right for me), so she headed to Canadian Tire for a utility table that can be taken down when I leave. Well, every house shoujld have acollapsible utility table. Or at least could have one, though ours didn’t.

I take my glove off of my hand and 
put it beside the yellow leaf that is mid-line
in the picture above.
I really want someone to see
how large the leaves are in Victoria.

Now Rebecca and I popped back in the car and headed into a Canadian Tire, she knowing that the trip would not be totally useless, since Steve needed a small wrench to fix the tap on the kitchen sink which finally became so broken it had to be propped up by a sponge. That can happen in a house where adults, some of them less gentle than others, reach to get at the water. So we bought the wrenches for Steve, two of them since we didn’t know if he needed a four inch or a six inch wrench. The wrenches were ½ price so it was like buying only one and can a man go wrong with too many tools?

Then we stopped by the isle with the utility table which was chosen more for its colour than for its size. On a roll, we headed to the laundry basket isle, for yes, either the handles or the sides of most of hers are broken. While we were on that isle, she also popped two clothes hampers into the cart for the boys, hoping the hampers will potentially become a home for clothes that are now often on the floor.

She has known she needed a medium sized blue recycling bin for pop cans and glass jars but has just never been in the vicinity where she could buy one. By this time we were pushing two carts, not one through Canadian Tire. No wonder shopping makes her grumpy. On the isle where we should have been able to pick up a George Forman grill there were none that would do. She needs one and her grill like that goes into use at least once a day, maybe more. So we failed on that point.

Small joys, I know. At least for me, since I was getting new dish towels. But maybe not such a small joy if I think about the fact that I need one or two of those close by me or someone else needs one when they go to tidy the kitchen, which is done about after every meal.

No trip ends at the till where the credit card is tapped. At least our time with these new items didn’t end there. We had to go to you tube to figure out how to open the black 5’ x 3’ utility table. What did people do before they could go to goggle to find out instructions on how to do things. Oh I know. Maybe the instructions used to come with the table.

And thus endeth Rebecca’s bi-annual shopping trip. And it was she, not me, who signalled that she was grumpy. Really grumpy.


November 11

I have been thinking about November 11th and what it is that I do to participate in the commemorative remembrances of that date.

The obvious one is buy and wear a poppy.

This year I saw three beaded poppy pins in Rebecca’s office, ones that she had purchased at Indigenous craft fairs and there were laying on that small strip of her bookshelves that run along where the books are standing.

She gave me one of those to wear which wearing has deepened my feeling about the day coming up.

I like to tuned into the CBC’s broadcast of the Remembrance Day Ceremony on parliament hill.

I always read the short memoirs of veterans and war brides in the newspaper, usually the Calgary Herald, but this year the The Times Colonist.

As I have been out walking, I have wondered why there is no food celebration around this day. Oh, I could buy something decorated with poppies, or even make a poppy seed chiffon cake but in our family we have never marked larger family gatherings with this day.

The most celebratory moments of this weekend have always been when I am around Greg Bates. If someone asks him to read “In Flanders Fields”, he can do the poem from memory. I wonder why I have never taken the time to memorize it. Well, actually, I have, but then I forget the second and third stanza.

But Greg doesn't.

At any point of the day, in any day of the year, Greg can say this poem by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
  Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
  In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Five Different Meals

... on my morning walk ...
... poppies decorating The Kensington complex ...
There are five different meal plans either beginning or ending or somewhere in between at this house at any given moment.

Now every home has its own character.

I am one of five adults living together in a shared space where everyone needs a place for at least their computer and an outlet for all of the chords that will attach them to other devices.

I have been thinking about all of the negotiations that go on with so many adults living together.

One change that is amazing to me is that the notion of family sitting down together for a meal is a thing of the past – totally disrupted.

People’s schedules make it impossible to eat together.

And as for a common meal, last week one person was keyto, one person was vegan, one person had new braces that hurt like crazy, and one person could only tolerate the blandest diet possible (ie bun, hamburger, bun – do not add any condiments – he has been like that for his full lifetime).

I am the person who has a broad range of interest in food, though I remember that my job is to be on a heart-smart diet.

I have to bend down and touch them
to see if they are metal or cardboard.
They are a heavy laminated paper.
Still I have my interest peaked in what is in the fridge by way of left overs, or just food that is there in waiting for the adventurous.

For example I found Goat Yogurt (5%) in the fridge this week.

“Who is eating this,” I asked Rebecca. “Oh no one. I just bought it because I thought someone might be interested in it.”

Well, if the answer is that it is no ones, I am going to try it.

We have fascinating mornings to me, watching all of us going different places at different times – Steve to work, Alex to UVic, Duncan to Camosun College, Rebecca living out her Sabbatical somewhere and me, trying to find editing to do.

And all are passing in and out of the house as though we are room mates – sleeping in the same building, cooking in separate pots and pans, small meals that will only be good for us and not others, watching the same movie, but only because we have almost treated it as though we are gathering for an exclusive party with special invitation to be here.

This is the part of a rich family life when adults live together.

... a beaded poppy pin that Rebecca shared with me ...
I have the job of staying out of other people’s business.

Well, everyone has that job.

And living here comes with the job of also making connections with each other, travelling the rooms and halls with respect, often finding joy in each other’s company.

I am used to inviting Duncan to the HD opera with me, and having him turn me down.

Still, I want him to know that at any time, he could join up with my agenda, as would I want to join up with his should there be space for that.

And interest in my part. Tomorrow’s D & D game is just that –made for his friends and I will have my fun at the opera.


Out-of-Your-Imagination Cookies

Alex was dying for cookies – fast cookies, no time to look at recipes, just get the butter out of the fridge and get mixing the sugar in.

He did say the words shortbread and rosemary in the same sentence, but by the time Rebecca had a recipe up on her computer screen Alex had already discovered that we only have ½ a cup of butter and was adding cocoanut oil to the mixture. Rebecca stayed with him to the end – and yes, even the rosemary got into the cookie dough.

I have to say that he offered me a bit of the cookie dough and it might have been the best cookie dough I have ever tasted.

I stood beside him while he used the drop method to get the cookies on the cookie sheet. They were evenly spaced. All 12 of them. When I checked them after 12 minutes there was a thin layer of cookie dough from one edge of the tray to the other.

On cooling, we decided they were about as close to Costco’s Lacy Cookie as we could ever get – the Lacey cookie without the chocolate covering on the bottom and with no macadamia nuts. Still, on tasting a chunk of the cookie, the word Lacey came to my mind.

He asked me if I got the rosemary flavour. I couldn’t say yes, until I had eaten some of the experiment from the other end of the pan. Definitely, next time, the rosemary should be chopped as the recipe suggested. When it is on the cookies, needle like, then I can definitely taste it.

Having had such success yesterday, Alex went to work again today on making a second batch of cookies, replicating yesterday’s method with the same result.

Pan cookies. They melted down from one side of the pan to the other.

But we don’t mind cutting them into squares when they cool.

He decided that when he makes cookies again he will measure the salt. These are over salted – maybe by 4 times he thinks.

Yes, I told him, I could not tell if the piece I tasted was a salty cookie or a sweet potato chip.


Everything in the Fridge Omelette

It is a privilege to have someone else cook for you.

And especially when that food comes out of the fridge fresh and into the frying pan for a quick stir fry before it becomes the filling for an omelette.

Having someone cook breakfast for me
seems like such a wonderful miracle.
As the choices for the filling go down, my interest goes up as to what could possibly be used to make what is left in the fridge work in an omelette.

Before we had our omelette a couple of days ago we paused to think about the joy of finding some spinach, some parsley, some oregano, and an onion, all of which can enter the same frying pan, with a little bit of vinegar and some Worcestershire sauce.

 It doesn’t hurt to put some Franks hot sauce with added lime on top.

Yes, a privilege to eat when someone else will do all that for me.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Roasting Vegetables

Alex roasted these potato using the
Sooke Spruce Salt and oregano.

Hum to the citrus taste in the salt.
The appliances that are on the counter are the ones that are used the most.

The bread making machine is in storage.

The vegetable juicer is prominent on the counter.

Alex is the one who likes to run carrots through it, or as he did today, beets to produce a beautiful red drink.

He also roasts vegetables, although he always says that much of the nutritive value is gone in the roasting and he wants all of us to be healthy and drink his juice.

Healthy or not, it is fun to have the winter vegetables roasted on a pan. Tonight there were Asian yams, regular yams, purple potatoes, onions and garlic on the roasting pan. Rebecca and I love getting the parchment paper down on the pans for easy clean up. We eat a lot of vegetables for a family who really aren’t vegetarians. Alex likes the chemistry of food. He alerts us to all kinds of potential for nutritive value of raw vegetables, which information I have to say I have side-lined all of my life.


Red Leaves

... red leaves are scattered on the ground ...
I am still amazed at the colour on the trees and at the size of the leaves that have fallen to the the ground.

I see people out with their leaf blowers and I noticed that Canadian Tire devoted one page of its flyers to giving sale prices on different models.

I thought back to Alberta where it is more fashionable to buy snow blowers, something that no Victorian would ever do.

... the students walk around campus with only light coats on...
Tonight Duncan’s homework for his film and history class was to watch one of the iconic films about Viet Nam.

He choose Platoon (1986). Steve, Rebecca and I joined him – they having seen it 35 years ago and I was a first time viewer.

Duncan hopes that the next film he has to watch will be somewhat lighter.

... we are the outskirts of the law school ...
Since he has to watch Hidden Figures tomorrow night, he will get his wish, for there are some charming parts to that film – though the racism it reveals is pretty painful.

Rebecca wanted a game of Lost Cities when the film as finished.

She likes games: Lost Cities, Splendor, Azul and Lords of Water Deep.

I give up.
It is easier to carry my books and computeer
in a carry on bag that I can roll instead
of the back pack on my back.
She finds relaxation in the repetition and competition of games.

I would rather loose myself in a good book which I deem as anti-social when those around want to play games.

I have probably played more game in the month I have been here, than I have played in my life.

... we are about to work for five hours and not even speak to each other ..
I thought I did well on my walking today, having done 14,000 feet.

Rebecca said to me, you may have beat Steve today.

But no, she asked him how far he had gone when he came in from work and he had done 16,000 steps.

Doesn't this leaf cover just scream for someone to run through it?
Not that there is a competition going on, but it would be fun for me to be the front runner.

I did see something on my walk that I have never seen before.

Somehow a hawk or another animal had caught a rabbit and eaten it, leaving the two little rabbit legs there on the ground and they were attached to the curved spine of the rabbit and the ribs were there as well.  Just the meat was picked off.

I have no idea why I felt I had to describe that -- I guess I just should be glad that I didn't take a picture of it.  It felt like some kind of foreshadowing in a movie.


Monday, November 4, 2019

The Gift of Electronic Transfers

Doral and Anita Johnson sent me some money by electronic transfer.

To receive this money I had to know what my password was on my TD Bank Account was.

I have changed that password so many times that I now no longer know what it is and I am away from home which is the place I usually keep my passwords hidden in case I need to confirm them.

Yesterday in an act of extreme bravery I tried to get into the bank account to accept that money from Doral and Anita. I was successful on the first try, just evidence that many of my fears are groundless.

old style accounting
... a different jar for every kind of payment ...
I have six bank accounts here.

No one needs six banks accounts.

But it seems I do: one for my ordinary deposits and out of which I write my checks; one joint account with Bonnie; one joint account with Glen; and now you can see that only leaves 3 extra accounts – all of which I use like the old style “put your money in a jar” way of taking care of major bills ahead. 

I can change the name on those accounts at will and sometimes the read “Money for the Court Case”, or “Cash for a New Roof on the Cabin”.
Those accounts usually have about $100 each in them – not enough to do any major work, but they are just holding accounts.

I noticed one of them was in arrears. I am never in a debit situation with bank accounts, as I told you, always keeping $100 in those three dummy accounts. I went to investigate. Each month there was a withdrawal and a deposit of $1,950 in one of the accounts that only holds $100. I couldn’t understand the codes, ie “Mgmt Rent Roll EMS”.

Pouring over the entries didn’t enlighten me that much, so I called the customer telephone service line for TD which is an exercise in extreme patience by itself. Finally Shahid, one of their representatives was on the telephone with me. At one point about half way through the conversation he said to me, “I think you are not satisfied with the service I am giving you, and perhaps you should speak with another of our representatives”. I wasn’t going to let him go and have to begin again. And I as perfectly satisfied. But think how long it took me to understand the following. I probably did understand it coming right out of the gate. I just could’t believe it.

1. a pre-authorized payment was coming out of that account every month to a company called “Mgt Rent Roll EMS” (EMS stands for Exceptional Management Systems, a company owned by Rhy Reukema)

2. the payment was coming out of one of the accounts that only holds $100. It dropped to $1,850 in the red.

3. because there was a deficit in that account, the bank drew $1,850 from my primary account and deposited in this secondary account to cover the funds.

4. this happened in Sept, and Oct, and again in November, though it was only Nov 1st when I caught this and my bank hadn’t drawn that sum again from my primary account yet to cover the funds in this secondary account withdrawal.

5. Shahid had to read long contractual agreements to me, where I confirmed I had no knowledge, nor had never agreed to the pre-authorized payments, each withdrawal having to have a separate reading of the contract.

6. I had to agree to a $12.50 fee to stop payments on further pre-authorized payments of this sort coming out of that account, a fee which would only cover that protection for one year.

7. Alerting the bank to the fraud that was happening here took me so long on the phone that by the time we were finished, I was asking Shahid, the telephone consultant, if his grandmother was more savvy than I to the ways of electronic banking, etc. He confirmed to me that I was doing just fine and I had been put on hold a number of times, because even he couldn’t figure out what was happening in the account either.

8. As well, all of the extra charges were showing up in my account: fees because I had gone into the overdraft and NSF fees, as well (Overdraft Interest, Withdrawal Fees and Non-Sufficient Funds Fee—Paid). These the bank agreed they would waive.

I had to go show all of this to Steve Carter who was in the living room, when I was finally finished with the call to TD. Steve made me curious about the following:

a. what gives the bank authority to draw from one account, when another is overdrawn. (I know that the answer is the bank can pretty well do what it wants.)

b. why should I pay a $12.50 stop payment fee on an account where I have not given anyone the right to a pre-authorized debit? Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me just to cancel that account and get a new one, given there is no cost to doing either of those things. That is a question that I am going to investigate.

c. how do I know that the $3,900 that was taken from my account will be returned to my bank account, Steve asked. (The customer representative assured me it would be returned to me on the next banking day, which is over the weekend in this context. Steve thinks it should have shown up right away, given that the $12.50 fee showed up immediately.) What I was curious about is that Shahid read to me that the bank would only refund up to 90 days of illegal withdrawals of this kind. That is what interested me. What if I hadn’t look at my electronic statements. It is possible for a person to go on holidays and not be back home for more than 90 or 180 days. What then? Would or could a person loose tens of thousands of dollars that way.)

I told Steve that I am accustomed to the old telephone scam that is similar to, “This is the CRA calling and someone will be knocking at your door soon unless you send us money.” But I haven’t run into this kind of fraud yet. So that is how my Saturday went – a large amount of my productive time, I spent on the phone with a TD customer service representative.

And today, Sunday, I finally got that electronic transfer of money accepted from Anita and Doral. 

Thank goodness to the power of remembering passwords for electronic banking.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Mary's Yellow Hand-Blown Beads

The yellow glass bead on the left hand side
of the necklace was the impetus for this string of beads.
Mary gave me some beads she had blown when she was busy working with glass.

I kept them in my jewellery box for a long time but I couldn't think of a good way to wear them and it seemed like such a shame not to put them to use.

Wyona took them to her favourite bead shop in London and chose some coral to put with them and a sprinkling of a few other beads.

I thought Mary would always wear that string of beads on a black dress.

But no!

She watched at her favourite online shopping store, Eloquii until her favourite dress was 40% off -- fashionista Mary.

Mary says that they realized this week that the Owen Wood who is in Rhiannon's class at school is Dan and Marina's boy.
When Mary messaged me with a picture of the necklace
she was wearing today, I sent her back a picture of the one
I was wearing.  I have it on loan from Bonnie Wyora.
Bpnnie was willing to give it up:  too heavy for her neck.
I would never say that.  I will go to bed
with huge knots in my neck rather than not wear it.

The families have hooked up and the Brooks' are going over to Dan and Marina's for sundaes tonight.

I got a little chill when I just wrote that.

No one knows how to serve ice-cream like the Pillings  used to.

The cereal bowls will be heaped high tonight if that tradition continues.

Candy for Christmas


2 cups white sugar           1 ¾ cups white syrup
2 cups heavy cream         1 cup butter
Pinch salt                         1 tbls. vanilla

A student of Rebecca's emailed her to say that the best caramels she had ever tasted were the ones that Rebecca would bring to class, and could she have the recipe.

So above is the short version of the longer verions to which you can link here:  Caramel Recipe.  And a big thank you to Edmonton Relief Society Candy Makers who passed this recipe on to so many people.

Rebecca is not in the candy-making mode right now, but she does have some tips to add to the ones you will find out on the link:

Yes, to using Lily White Corn Syrup (usually found on the shelves close to honey, baking goods, etc). 
I use a teflon coated pan with straight sides (so I can clip a $10 candy thermometer on the side of the pan, so it will rest in the liquid and not touch the bottom of the pan).
The secret? Put the cream, sugar, butter and syrup in the pan, and heat it SLOWLY, stirring regularly until the sugar has really dissolved. I can usually tell if I am using a wooden spatula to stir, because you will sort of FEEL the scratchiness of the sugar until then. Once the sugar is well and truly dissolved, then you turn up the temperature until it comes to a boil. (not splattering you… but it will be boiling). Then you stop stirring, and just let it do its magic until it gets to the temperature you want. 
You really can do experiments here. If you stop it at a lower temperature, you will end up with the most delicious pancake syrup ever. Higher than that, and you will have a runny caramel. Higher still, and the caramel will firm up, and if you go even higher, it will be hard enough to be more like a peanut brittle.

I use a good cookie sheet (one that does not also get used for chicken fingers), and prepare it by rubbing it with butter first. That will help get the caramel off the sheet later. I also place the cookie sheet on a wooden cutting board on the counter, so I don’t worry about it being too hot, or burning my fingers when moving it before cool. 
Add the vanilla at the last minute before taking it off the stove, and give it a quick stir (it will start bubbling up when the vanilla hits the surface. Then I take two good oven mitts, and til the pot over the sheet, so the caramels pours onto it….I often get one of the boys to help scrape things off the pot onto the cookie sheet, since you will NOT want to rest the pot against your chest to leverage on this! Been there done that. Ouch. Truth is, you can’t go wrong. No matter what you do, it will be an interesting experiment. 
And then try it again!

Missing by Marie Clements

Caitlin Wood (front) and Rose-Ellen Nichols (rear)
 in City Opera Vancouver’s 
Photo: Michelle Doherty, Diamond’s Edge Photography
On Friday, Rebecca and I did get out to see Missing by Marie Clements (libretto) and Brian Current (composer).

Here is a 2017 review from OperaCanada if someone would like to read a bit about the Canadian opera, Missing.

I should put a warning here.  I have read the rest of this post and I seem to go on and on.  Now that is amazing to me for when I sat down, I wondered if I could find anything to say about it.

A few weeks ago someone told Rebecca to buy ticket for this opera, that it was being revived and would be in Victoria for two days, then in Regina and Prince Rupert. She was grateful for this opportunity might have just passed us by without us seeing it. I was really excited about going. We arrived at the Beaumont Opera Centre early to get our tickets and there was a long line of people waiting to get in the door, some of whom we knew. We stood and chatted outside in the lineup, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the inner city in the late autumn evening. Rebecca spotted a family of racoons hiding in brush under the trees. One of them was on the sidewalk and turned to give direct eye contact to us.

There was general seating and we were way back in the line.

We found a spot in the middle, midway between the back and front of the hall. We sat down, and one of Rebecca’s former students, Jasmine, was behind us with her husband and in-laws so we chatted. The room felt warm with friendship. The two women beside me were looking forward to the show as well, though all of us know that the subject matter is painful: tragedies that occur on The Highway of Tears, the Highway 16, the stretch from Prince Rupert to Prince George. So many missing and murdered women and girls.

The dissonance in the music felt right to me, as the opera began, appropriate for the subject matter. Over the years the atonal music seems as though it normal. The opera runs straight through, no intermission, and at the end, people who felt that they could not go away with good energy were told that there was smudging, water and a tradition that involves eagle feathers for those who wished to have it in some rooms downstairs.

I am a hug fan of HD live operas – I am enchanted with new film techniques and new technology has created a resurgence in the interest about operas. I get a little chill in the theatre when they say that this opera is being seen in 65 countries or that there will be 7 million viewers. Usually someone who is introducing the opera reminds all of us to support our local opera companies, saying that nothing can replace the sound of human voice doing live opera.

I haven’t been to live opera for a long time. So this was our night for that.

Part of the opera is sung in Gitxsan. The subtitles were in English. I might have liked that the best about the opera. Our protagonist goes to Vancouver and takes language lessons, learning Gitxsan. I thought the metaphor was beautiful – we who want to be involved in the lives of indigenous people, must learn to speak their language.

Rebecca and I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about the show. Oh, maybe we have, since we did talk about it on the drive home. But sometimes days pass and then it may feel like time to talk about it again. Both of us wondered about the marriage scene. Our protagonist gets married using a Gitxsan wedding ceremony which involved music and leaves gently falling on the couple as they stood together. The falling leaves may have represented a new season, their new connection to themselves and the trees and animals around them? I don’t know. I think I will take the opportunity to watch this show again if it comes our way.

One side bar about the language in the show: the libretto feels like poetry. As it was being sung, I could feel myself neatly parsing it into its beautiful shape in black and white on paper. I have never done that with opera before.

Entertainment is amazing these days. In the last few Shakespeare plays I have seen that have come from London, especially at the Bridge Theatre, the audience has become part of the show, drawn in by the actors walking out into the audience, or by having acrobat/actors hanging above them on a trapeze or climbing ropes heavenward. In the case of Missing, there is a scene where the professor turns directly to the audience as though she is answering questions after a lecture, and two of the singers are placed in the audience and dialogue with her. Rebecca and I were sitting close to the singers in the audience, so that was lovely. And there was the feeling that we had really entered the opera, and that we had some hard questions to ask of ourselves as we sat in that classroom.

After the clapping and the bows the leader of the One Circle Drumming Group came on stage and said there would be some songs and dances performed, so we stayed sitting on our chairs. The singer of the first song could project his voice with the same power of the opera singers. Double opera for us that night.

I looked around the audience. Many of those who have lived in Victoria for a long time are familiar with the sound of the Indigenous drumming and singing. The bodies and hands of some in the audience gently rocked to the songs and sometimes the dancers circled the outside of the hall. When the singers announced the Whale Song, they said that anyone could join them who wished to do so. Rebecca was one of those who mov forward to dance with them, swaying with the right number of beats first 4 moves backward and then 4 moves forward, then from side to side, then putting her hands in front of her gently pressing them in a circling motion forward as though she were a whale swimming in the water.

This was a wonderful night for anyone who wanted has started to think about the practice of reconciliation.